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toc_3-4_November/December 2012 TOC 10/11/12 11:16 AM Page 3

On Middle East Affairs Volume XXXI, No. 8

November/December 2012

Telling the Truth for 30 Years… Interpreting the Middle East for North Americans

Interpreting North America for the Middle East

THE U.S. ROLE IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE 8 Response to Anti-Islam Film Reflects Long-Standing Grievances—Rachelle Marshall 11 Iraq: Ten Years, a Million Lives and Trillions of Dollars Later—Rep. Dennis Kucinich 12 Why Do Arabs and Muslims Hate America? —Patrick Seale 13 How a Group of Christians Smearing Muslims Benefits the Jewish State—Maidhc Ó Cathail 17 Of Bombs and Comics—Uri Avnery 19 Time Is Running Out for Peace—George S. Hishmeh 20 General Assembly “Debate”: From Netanyahu’s Cheap Farce to Morsi’s Urbanity—Ian Williams 22 A Modest Proposal: A Constitution for Israel Based on “Shared” American Values

—John Gee

23 The Heroes of Sabra and Shatila and Lebanon’s Other Refugee Camps—Delinda C. Hanley 26 Israel’s Apartheid Wall Threatens to Cut Through History—Jillian Kestler-D’Amours 28 Rising Tuition Costs Threaten Future of a Generation of Palestinians—Mohammed Omer 30 Israel’s “Separate and Unequal” Policies Toward its Palestinian Citizens—Diana Safieh CONGRESS AND THE 2012 ELECTIONS 15 Romney Assails Obama’s “Passivity” in Foreign Policy, Middle East—Jim Lobe 32 Senators Take Money From Friends of IDF, Vote Against Jobs Bill for American Veterans

—Laurance A. Toenjes 34 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Blatantly Tries to Influence the U.S. Elections—Shirl McArthur

SPECIAL REPORTS 36 Only a Muslim Brotherhood President Can Speak to America and About Religion—Joseph Mayton 38 Domes, Arches and Minarets: Islamic Architecture in America—Andrew Stimson 40 Syrian, Palestinian Refugees Flee Hostilities in Syria For Uncertainty in Lebanon—Samaa Abu Sharar 42 Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis: The Should-Be Headline—Dale Sprusansky

Detail of the Almas Shrine Temple in Washington, DC. See story p. 38.

ON THE COVER: A mother and her children near Beit Atfal Assamoud in Beirut’s Shatila refugee camp. Artists from Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and the U.S. joined Shatila refugees in September to paint 2,000 square feet of murals celebrating international solidarity with Palestinian resilience and creativity. See story p. 23. DELINDA C. HANLEY


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(A Supplement to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs available by subscription at $15 per year. To subscribe, call toll-free 1-800-368-5788, and press 1.)

Other Voices

Compiled by Janet McMahon

Consequences of an Interventionist Foreign Policy, Rep. Ron Paul, http://paul.house.gov

OV-1

Afghanistan: The Underpants Option, Gwynne Dyer, Hürriyet Daily News

OV-2

MEK Delisting Slap in the Face for Average Iranians, Leila Kashefi, www.lobelog.com

OV-3

A Blast From the Past: The Non-Aligned Movement, Eric Margolis, http://ericmargolis.com

OV-3

The Collapse of Turkey’s Middle East Policy, Patrick Seale, Agence Global

OV-4

Assad and Opposition Both Losing, Zak Brophy, Inter Press Service The Final Moment Before the Liberal Population Leaves Israel, Sefi Rachlevsky, Haaretz “Israel” Meets South Africa in World Baseball Classic, Ira Glunts, www.counterpunch.com

OV-5

OV-6

OV-7

ZOA’s Uncertain Status, Josh Nathan-Kazis, The Forward

OV-8

ZOA’s Mort Klein Gets 38 Percent Pay Hike, Josh Nathan-Kazis, The Forward

OV-9

FP 50 Inadvertently Reveals Israel’s Dominance of GOP, Maidhc Ó Cathail, http://thepassionateattachment.com

OV-10

Shelley Berkley Takes Chance on Senate, Nathan Guttman, The Forward

OV-10

Muslims Are no Different, or Why Bill Maher’s Blood Libel Is Bigotry, Juan Cole, www.juancole.com

OV-12

Moderates in West Must Raise Their Voices, Haroon Siddiqui, The Star

OV-13

Senate Hearing on Solitary Confinement: The Missing Piece, Melva Underbakke, www.projectsalem.org

OV-14

Let’s Rise Above Bigotry Toward Muslims, Shamshad Ahmad, Times Union

OV-15

Remembering The Sabra and Shatila Massacres, Nabil Mohamad, www.salon.com OV-16

DEPARTMENTS 5 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

7 PUBLISHERS’ PAGE

51 ISRAEL AND JUDAISM: Israeli

64 DIPLOMATIC DOINGS:

Occupation Destructive Not

Ambassadors Engage

Only to Palestinians, But to

American Muslims

Jewish Morals, Ethics 44 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

—Allan C. Brownfeld

CHRONICLE: Turkish Arts, Music, Culture Celebrated at 15th Annual Monterey Festival—Elaine Pasquini

54 ARAB-AMERICAN ACTIVISM: New AAI Poll: Arab Americans Continue to Drift to the Democrats

67 OTHER PEOPLE’S MAIL 69 THE WORLD LOOKS AT THE MIDDLE EAST — CARTOONS 70 BOOK REVIEWS: After Zionism: One State for Israel and Palestine

46 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHRONICLE: “After Zionism” Forum Sparks Lively Dialogue in Westwood Hills Church

54 HUMAN RIGHTS: Senate Hearing on Sikh Shooting and Domestic Extremism

—Pat and Samir Twair

STATE NEWS: Moving Film

ACTIVISM: Exhibition Highlights Muslim Inventions

“The Other Son” Questions Essence of Israeli, Palestinian Identity—Jane Adas

The Time Remaining

—Reviewed by Delinda Hanley 71 NEW ARRIVALS FROM THE

55 MUSLIM-AMERICAN 48 NEW YORK CITY AND TRI-

—Reviewed by Dale Sprusansky and Andrew Stimson

AET BOOK CLUB 72 BULLETIN BOARD 73 2012 AET CHOIR OF ANGELS

57 WAGING PEACE: Analyzing Muslim Film Protests

21 INDEX TO ADVERTISERS


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ANDREW I. KILLGORE RICHARD H. CURTISS Managing Editor: JANET McMAHON News Editor: DELINDA C. HANLEY Book Club Director: ANDREW STIMSON Administrative Director: ALEX BEGLEY Art Director: RALPH U. SCHERER Assistant Editor: DALE SPRUSANSKY

LetterstotheEditor

Publisher:

Executive Editor:

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (ISSN 8755-4917) is published 8 times a year, monthly except Jan./Feb., March/April, June/July and Nov./Dec. combined, at 1902 18th St., NW, Washington, DC 20009-1707. Tel. (202) 9396050. Subscription prices (United States and possessions): one year, $29; two years, $55; three years, $75. For Canadian and Mexican subscriptions, $35 per year; for other foreign subscriptions, $70 per year. Periodicals, postage paid at Washington, DC and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, P.O. Box 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056. Published by the American Educational Trust (AET), a non-profit foundation incorporated in Washington, DC by retired U.S. foreign service officers to provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states. AET’s Foreign Policy Committee has included former U.S. ambassadors, government officials, and members of Congress, including the late Democratic Sen. J. William Fulbright and Republican Sen. Charles Percy, both former chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Members of AET’s Board of Directors and advisory committees receive no fees for their services. The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs does not take partisan domestic political positions. As a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, it endorses U.N. Security Council Resolution 242’s land-for-peace formula, supported by nine successive U.S. presidents. In general, it supports Middle East solutions which it judges to be consistent with the charter of the United Nations and traditional American support for human rights, selfdetermination, and fair play. Material from the Washington Report may be reprinted without charge with attribution to Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Bylined material must also be attributed to the author. This release does not apply to photographs, cartoons or reprints from other publications. Indexed by Ebsco Information Services, InfoTrac, LexisNexis, Public Affairs Information Service, Index to Jewish Periodicals, Ethnic News Watch, Periodica Islamica. CONTACT INFORMATION: Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Editorial Office and Bookstore: P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009-9062 Phone: (202) 939-6050 • (800) 368-5788 Fax: (202) 265-4574 E-mail: wrmea@wrmea.com bookclub@wrmea.com circulation@wrmea.com advertising@wrmea.com Web sites: http://www.wrmea.org http://www.middleeastbooks.com Subscriptions, sample copies and donations: P.O. Box 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056. Phone: (888) 881-5861 • Fax: (714) 226-9733 Printed in the USA

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

A Fateful Date As expected, President Mahmoud Abbas, in his Sept. 27 speech to the U.N. General Assembly, confirmed Palestine’s intention, without giving up on the eventual goal of full U.N. membership, to seek soon an upgrade of Palestine’s status at the U.N. from “observer entity” to “observer state.” Wisely, President Abbas was entirely vague as to precisely when Palestine would seek a General Assembly vote on its status upgrade. The most likely date—and the date which I personally recommend—is Nov. 29. In addition to falling after the U.S. elections, when the pressures on Barack Obama (win or lose) to pander and prove his allegiance to Israel will have diminished significantly, Nov. 29, 2012 will be both the annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (as so declared by the United Nations in 1977) and the 65th anniversary of the U.N. General Assembly’s fateful resolution recommending the partition of Palestine into two states, one state for the Arab majority and one (larger) state for the Jewish minority. What better day to summon forth, to the maximum degree possible, the sense of moral obligation and legal responsibility of the “international community” toward the Palestinian people, who have suffered so grievously since that resolution was adopted? John V. Whitbeck, Paris, France We agree that Nov. 29 is the appropriate date and the General Assembly the appropriate venue, since—unlike the Security Council—the former gives a vote to all 193 U.N. member states. As you pointed out in your article “Recognizing Palestinian Statehood—Quality as Well as Quantity” (see March 2011 Washington Report, p. 11), 110 U.N. member states, encompassing between 80 percent and 90 percent of the world’s population, recognize the State of Palestine. Since then, you’ve informed us, that number has increased to 131.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? On Sept. 20, Prof. John Mearsheimer spoke to the Baltimore Council of Foreign Affairs (BCFA) on the subject of China. Because of Mearsheimer’s book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy [available from the AET Book Club] and his courage in speaking truthfully about how powerful and dangerous the Israel lobby is to America, it was reported that several pro-Israel Jewish THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

groups visited the office of Frank Burd, president of BCFA, in order to try to have the lecture cancelled. Burd didn’t cancel the lecture, but he did cave in by telling the audience that only questions about China would be allowed, something that he had never done before. Frank Burd denies that he was afraid of offending his heavily Jewish audience, but it was obvious that this was the case. I urge Washington Report readers to contact Burd at <bcfapresident@verizon.net> and ask him why he refuses freedon of speech when Israel and the Middle East are involved. Ray Gordon, Bel Air, MD So much for the West’s commitment to freedom of speech above all else!

Israel First in Hawaii I read the October 2012 “Election Watch” analysis with great interest. As a Hawaii resident, I was particularly taken with managing editor Janet McMahon’s concluding four paragraphs. Here are three of my recollections of the 2003-10 governorship of Israel-firster Linda Lingle: • Almost her first act after inauguration in 2003 was leading a 33-person, multi-day trip to Israel. It was billed as an opportunity to explore deeper economic ties between the state of Hawaii and Israel. Government officials, spouses and business leaders accompanied Lingle. Who can doubt that each was wined, dined, feted and propagandized to the max? • In 2004’s run-up to Dubya’s November election, Lingle pranced around the country at numerous of his campaign stops, visible and acting (in my activist sphere’s view) as Dubya’s very own chirpy high-school cheerleader. She was—of course, as a Zionist—an avid supporter of the zioneocons’ shattering of Iraq. • In September 2007, as part of an “International Women’s Leadership Conference” initiated by one of Lingle’s predecessors, Lingle invited Israel’s then-For5


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eign Minister Tzipi Livni to be one of nine featured speakers. I was deeply involved in a local protest movement decrying the visit to Hawaii by a war criminal (Lebanon’s 2006 destruction was still very fresh). On the morning of the conference, I was the lone protester on the ocean/beach side of the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel. A 70ish Zionist (snarling at me in a foreign accent) and his wife passed me on the sidewalk. He assaulted me, wrenching the large protest sign I was holding with both hands away from me and dashing it to the ground, twisting my spine in the process. There was no security present at that 7 a.m. hour; within minutes, I found a police squad and reported the assault and resulting severe back and neck pain, but of course the perp had gone his way and was never apprehended. I perused the accompanying several-page itemization of pro-Israel PAC contributions. Along with the head-shaking at all the evidence of influence-peddling, I became most fascinated with the “Status” column and the many entries with “N” (Not Running). If I counted correctly, there are 33 “Ns,” with dollar totals adding to a net $146,250 (there are four negative entries, which I found mystifying). For example, Richard Lugar was favored with $26,500—second largest behind Rothman. Are the positivedollar entries lucrative “thank you” bonuses for past favors rendered? Robert H. Stiver, Pearl City, Hawaii Unlike Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), who receive generous infusions of pro-Israel PAC money even though their re-election is a foregone conclusion, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) was in a tight race— and, in fact, lost in the Republican primary to

Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock. While many incumbents decided not to run for re-election, there were so many primary defeats that we most likely begin using a new abbreviation to designate those: DP (defeated in primary)? LP (lost primary)? ID (incumbent defeated)? EGO (we’re working on that...)? Some candidates actually do return money to PACs, and those sums are preceded by a minus sign.

Small Bucks Your frequent listings of gifts to politicians by pro-Israel PACs, etc., make one thing rather clear—the amounts (per politician) are very, very small. It appears that AIPAC et al. get a big bang for their (small) bucks. Perhaps they could stop making those small contributions entirely without losing Congress’ devotion. Perhaps pro-Israel voting has become an ingrained congressional habit by now rather than a “bought” favor and there is no further need for the “buying.” But more likely, politicians fear truly massive gifts to their opponents in the event that they—shudder, perish the thought—deviate in any slightest respect from the AIPAC “party line.” Hence the slavish devotion of USA’s pols to AIPAC’s demands and to Israel. No mafia armed merely with guns could ever have established such control! And with a war with Iran possibly imminent, this is something Americans should ponder. Peter Belmont, Brooklyn, NY Alas, the Israel lobby is much larger than proIsrael PACs. It includes organizations such as Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, a “nonprofit” organization which also makes campaign contributions (see p. 32). Moreover, individuals who donate to proIsrael PACs donate directly to candiOther Voices is an optional dates as well (see 16-page supplement available April 2008 Wash ington Report, p. only to subscribers of the 29). For example, in 2010 Rep. Mark Washington Report on Kirk (R-IL), in his Middle East Affairs. For an adsuccessful run for Barack Obama’s ditional $15 per year (see former Senate seat, postcard insert for Wash for which he received more pro-Isington Re port subscriprael PAC contribution rates), subscribers will tions than any other candidate for the receive Other Voices bound into each issue of their House or Senate, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. received $3,804 f r o m N o r PAC , Back issues of both publications are available. To subone of the 30 or so scribe telephone 1 (800) 368-5788 (press 1), fax (202) active pro-Israel PACs, and $57,110 265-4574, e-mail <circulation@wrmea.com>, or write from individuals to P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009. associated with NorPAC!

6

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Three Stooges We see where the three stooges are at it again (or still). No, not Larry, Curly, and Moe, these original buffoons; we’re referring to John, Joe and Lindsey (McCain, Lieberman and Graham). While the former stooges were zany, slap-stick humorous, the current crop of jokes are downright dangerous—dangerous to the best interests of Uncle Sam. One might well wonder if this toxic trio are at all familiar with the book (and theme) of the work Faust, and all that entails. Paul Richards, Salem, OR It’s one thing to march to the beat of a different drummer, quite another to march to the beat of a different country. Rumors of a Secretary of State Lieberman in a Romney administration make our hair curl—and that’s no joke. Four Years of Media Distortions I am a prisoner at the Ohio State Penitentiary. I have for many years been an admirer of the quality of reporting by the Washington Report. Being incarcerated, my sources for news on the Middle East are almost entirely derived from the monopoly: ABC, NBC, CBS, etc., etc. Understanding the history and nature of conflicts from that region of the world as I do, I am often bewildered and angered after having listened to yet another grotesquely distorted report regarding the Palestinians and the oppressed, peaceloving Israelis as represented by the likes of Andrea Mitchell, George Stephanopoulos, John Batchelor and Malcolm Hoenlein, et al. I know that prisoners are not a constituency that the Washington Report and AET Library Endowment might naturally seek to benefit with a free magazine subscription, but if at all possible would you please consider such a gift. I currently receive $9.00 per month in state pay and am without other means. I have not read an issue of the Washington Report in about four years and would truly like to read news of the Middle East based on integrity and honesty. Thank you for your consideration. Brian Vidrine, Youngstown, OH We are most happy to send you a complimentary subscription. Four years without the Washington Report is far too long! A Word About Long Beach I do not support groups which outsource mail. Long Beach Indeed! And without a word in the magazine! M.R. Eucalyptus, Kansas City MO Actually, we did announce “our new circulation department in California” in our June/July “Publishers’ Page.” But with such a small staff, we simply cannot train a new circulation director on our complicated program every year or so, and decided to seek outside assistance again when our last circulation director left. We’re very sorry your displeasure has led you to cancel your subscription and contribution, but sincerely thank you for your past support. ❑ NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


publishers_7_November-December 2012 Publishers page 10/11/12 3:15 PM Page 7

American Educational Trust Please Let it End, Already! We confess that even we news junkies can’t wait until the November elections are behind us. The rancor of political ads, the post-debate media spin about zingers, gaffes or perceived weaknesses have become a real distraction from finding solutions to urgent problems facing our world. Today’s politicians would rather point fingers and assign blame to the other side instead of buckling down to tackle the serious issues we face.

The Bomb Ticks Everywhere. The impending disaster in the Middle East is not an Iranian bomb, as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would have us believe. It’s the same economic and social justice issues Americans and Europeans should be confronting back home. Just like all of us, Arabs want their civil, political and religious rights, along with access to better jobs, education, health care, infrastructure and housing. When these rights become a privilege available only to those of a certain creed, gender, ethnic origin or financial status…

Things Eventually Will Explode. Any nation that ignores or, worse yet, tramples on the human rights of many of its citizens and illegally occupies territories acquired through an aggressive war—for some reason, Israel comes to mind—certainly should not be receiving U.S. military aid. In addition to jeopardizing American values, years of wars and soaring military costs, along with severe cuts in economic aid and international diplomacy, are leading our country into bankruptcy. Our question for both presidential candidates

Deadline for Holiday Gift Orders Books from the AET Book Club Catalog or subscriptions to the Washington Report make ideal holiday gifts. To ensure delivery of books or magazines to addresses within the U.S. and Canada by Monday, Dec. 24, telephone orders must be placed and mail and Web orders received no later than Friday, Dec. 14 by 6 p.m. EST. OCTOBER 2012

Publishers’ Page

is: “Will your budget further jeopardize America’s national security by slashing funding for international development and diplomacy?” Were both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to reply honestly,

We Fear the Answer Would Be “Yes.” In his infamous “47 Percent Video,” Romney trashed a two-state Israel/Palestine solution because he thinks the Palestinians have “no interest whatsoever in establishing peace.” Because he believes the conflict will remain an unsolved problem, he suggested “we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.” Nor is it just Romney who is ignoring this issue. To use a sports metaphor appropriate for our basketball-loving president, Obama has taken a few shots, but has spent most of the past four years dribbling the ball.

The Syrian Crisis. Neither Romney nor Obama seems to have a solution for the tragic mayhem in Syria. One dilemma is deciding which of the 100 opposition groups—including, apparently, al-Qaeda—Washington should support. Another is how realistic it is to establish a “no-fly zone” in a nation whose air defenses, located in population centers near Syria’s western borders with Jordan, are five times more sophisticated than those Libya possessed, according to Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey.

Many of the Articles in This Issue… Highlight the region’s refugees. The financial and political costs of accommodating vast numbers of displaced Syrians (not to mention the millions of Palestinian refugees who have waited nearly 65 years for an end to their exile) are crippling Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Following a meeting of NATO ministers in Brussels, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said the U.S. has deployed special operations soldiers to Jordan to “help monitor Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons and determine what efforts to take if violence spreads to neighboring nations.” Uh, oh.

Where Have We Heard That Before? A Pebble’s Ripples in the Water. It really does matter when each Washington Report reader sends the postcard inside each issue, and writes or phones lawmakers to express an opinion (and perhaps edTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

ucate them as well). Our readers have passed on some encouraging letters they’ve received in response to the postcards they’ve sent. And we know only too well that a small number of lobbyists, zealots, and others with a passionate attachment to a certain foreign country do not hesitate to flood U.S. legislators with terrible ideas.

Got Mail? Some readers, however, were alarmed to receive a letter from the IRS! Until, that is, they recalled sending our postcard asking why on earth the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and or/the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF) retain tax-exempt status when they are lobbying for Israel. The IRS replied that, due to privacy provisions, it “cannot comment on what action, if any, we may take regarding the information your provided”—but welcomed “any additional information” we could send. We’re more than happy to…

Take Them Up on Their Offer! Thanking Angels! As always, we’d like to thank our advertisers, including “Mr. Fizz,” who contacted us after reading about a new DC boycott campaign (October 2012 Washington Report, p. 58-59). His product, he explained, manufactured in the USA instead of in an illegal Israeli settlement, offers a refreshing alternative to SodaStream products. We’d also like to thank Jane Power of Vancouver, Canada, who paid the airfare for news editor Delinda C. Hanley to cover the Sabra and Shatila commemoration for this issue. Our travel budget was the first item axed when the recession hit the Washington Report, and we appreciate readers who step up to the plate to help. To paraphrase an old riddle…

“How Many Angels Does It Take… To keep a magazine like the Washington Report afloat?” We are humbled by your response to our last donation appeal and we’ll be sending this year’s final appeal in November. We challenge all our readers and angels to purchase magazine subscriptions, books and DVDs (see enclosed order form), as well as Palestinian pottery, olive oil and needlework for everyone on your holiday gift list. You’ll help sustain hope—and perhaps even change—in 2013. So let’s join together and…

Make a Difference Today! 7


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Response to Anti-Islam Film Reflects Long-Standing Grievances SpecialReport

JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP/GETTYIMAGES

By Rachelle Marshall

As Israeli soldiers look on, Jewish settlers from the illegal West Bank colony of Bracha throw stones at Palestinian farmers from the village of Burin, north of Nablus, Oct. 10, 2012. That evening settlers attacked villagers harvesting their olives, injuring two. lowback” was a term once used by

“Bthe CIA to describe the unintended and unwanted consequences of a covert operation. One example was the CIA’s arming of anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan during the 1980s, only to have those fighters turn their guns against the U.S. forces that invaded their country in 2001. The same term could be applied to the last halfcentury of U.S. Middle East policy. The popular rage that prompted crowds to storm American embassies in Egypt and Libya on Sept. 11—and initially said to have caused the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three of his co-workers, although the Benghazi attack was later described as a wellplanned “terrorist” operation—was attributed to an American-made film that portrayed the Prophet Muhammad as a child molester and womanizer. The crudely made film, which was dubbed into Arabic and had been posted online a few days earlier, was the work of a group of evangelical Christians, led by a gas station owner with Rachelle Marshall is a free-lance editor living in Mill Valley, CA. A member of Jewish Voice for Peace, she writes frequently on the Middle East. 8

a criminal record, and a virulently antiMuslim insurance salesman. But as the anti-U.S. protests spread to 20 countries, including Yemen, Tunisia, Sudan, South Asia, and even to Germany and Britain, it was clear that the film was only the spark that ignited already smouldering resentment. American policy in the Middle East since World War II has consisted chiefly of protecting the free flow of oil, propping up dictatorial regimes, and assuring Israel’s military and economic dominance over its neighbors. Human rights and respect for international law were not part of this agenda, with the result that any goodwill America had enjoyed in the past was dissipated. Resentment at Washington’s support for corrupt Arab rulers and a growing U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf, combined with outrage at Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, helped fuel the attacks on Sept. 11. Instead of studying the causes of that tragedy, and re-evaluating U.S. policies, the U.S. responded by launching wars against two Muslim countries; killing as many as 880 civilians in Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan with drone missiles; and imposing crippling sanctions on Iran while ignoring THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Israel’s nuclear arsenal. As Ron Bonn wrote in a Sept. 18, 2012 letter to The New York Times, “A canary died in the coal mines of the West’s relations with the Muslim world...and we would do well to start figuring out why and what to do about it.” Policymakers would also have been wise to recall a letter sent to former President Bill Clinton in January 1998 by a pro-Israel cabal that included John Bolton, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. Headed “Project for a New American Century,” the letter urged Clinton to “enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world. That strategy,” the letter stressed, “should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussain’s regime from power.” The signers pointed out that Saddam’s fall would have the added benefit of weakening the Assad regime in neighboring Syria. Several of the American signers had served as policy advisers to newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in 1996, when they urged him to downplay peace efforts with the Palestinians, and instead seek “peace through strength.” In January 2001 the same individuals joined the government of President NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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SAID KHATIB/AFP/GETTYIMAGES

George W. Bush and almost immediIranian merchants are trading rials for ately began planning the invasion of dollars in Afghanistan. The sanctions Iraq. The 9/11 attacks, which Iraq had are taking a toll, of course—food costs had nothing to do with, provided the have doubled, and unemployment for excuse; a campaign of lies provided the young people is at 30 percent—but justification. Iranians blame America, not their own Today neither Israel nor the U.S. is rulers, for their hardships. safer. Wars that have sapped the AmerThe double standard applied by the ican economy, cost 7,000 American U.S. to Israel and its Muslim neighlives, and caused immeasurable misery bors, and the tolerance of virulent to millions of Afghans and Iraqis, have anti-Islam sentiment under the guise created new enemies. Al-Qaeda has of freedom of expression, were the imsteadily recruited new members, and is mediate stimulus for the recent active in several provinces in Iraq, demonstrations at U.S. embassies where they did not exist before the around the world. But anti-American U.S. invasion. hostility is compounded by the frusMeanwhile the growing presence of trations young people face in counal-Qaeda and similar groups in Syria tries where past government corruphas trapped the U.S. and its allies in a tion has undermined the economy, undilemma. President Bashar al-Assad, as employment is high, and political exan ally of Iran, is regarded as a threat pression has until now been silenced. to Israel. But Assad’s downfall could According to The Washington Post’s result in his replacement, and the capDavid Ignatius, more conservative ture of Syria’s chemical weapons, by Muslims such as the Salafis in Egypt Islamist militants who are even more are taking advantage of the prevalent hostile to Israel. In another example of discontent to challenge moderate Musblowback, the Shi’i government of lim leaders who reach out to the West, Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq is defying U.S. such as Egypt’s President Morsi. Qatar protests and allowing Iranian planes to and Saudi Arabia “are making a bet use Iraq’s airspace to carry cargo to the that over the next year Morsi can staA man holds a wounded boy in the Al-Najar hospi- bilize Egypt and get the economy Syrian government. The demonstrable failure of U.S. tal in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah follow- moving again,” Ignatius said. “The policies advocated by Israel’s support- ing an Oct. 7 Israeli air strike that killed one Pales- United States should make the same ers has not prevented the same crew tinian and wounded nine, including this child. bet.” from pressuring the Obama adminisWhether it will is yet to be seen. tration to undertake yet another fatal ven- than to their own president. Obama administration officials are reportture. Twice in September Israeli Prime Considering that during the Cold War edly working on an agreement to relieve Minister Netanyahu called on Obama to set the U.S. coexisted for years with a nuclear- Egypt of $1 billion of its debt and give limits on Iran’s nuclear program and com- armed Soviet Union, and that India and U.S. backing to a $4.8 billion loan from the mit the U.S. to military action if Iran ex- Pakistan, long bitter enemies, have not International Monetary Fund. Washington ceeded those linits. In Jerusalem on Sept. gone to war since each acquired a bomb, would continue its annual aid to Egypt of 8, and on American television a week later, the rational course would be to contain a $1.3 billion, a main objective of which Netanyahu berated the administration for nuclear-armed Iran with the threat of an- would be to reduce unemployment and rerefusing to set “clear red lines,” and said it nihilation, and meanwhile work toward a store stability. But the plan is strenuously had “no moral right” to restrain Israel from nuclear-free Middle East. opposed by an unlikely combination of doing so. Much of the world supports this ap- right-wing Republicans in Congress who On Sept. 27 the Israeli leader devoted his proach. Representatives of 120 non-aligned are suspicious of Morsi’s ties to the Muslim speech at the U.N. General Assembly to a nations who met in Tehran on Aug. 31 gave Brotherhood, and Islamic factions that rewarning that the failure to set “red lines” their unanimous endorsement to Iran’s gard Morsi as too moderate. for Iran could lead to war, since a nuclear- right to develop a nuclear enrichment proThe new Egyptian government clearly armed Iran would be a threat not only to gram, and criticized the U.S.-led effort to wants to maintain good relations with Israel but to the entire world. However, isolate and punish it for doing so. Iran’s America, although on different terms than there is still no evidence that Iran is devel- ruler, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khamenei, before. President Morsi said in an interoping a weapon, and in fact it has recently told the gathering, “The Islamic Republic view just before attending a meeting of the converted some of its enriched uranium for is not after nuclear weapons, but we will U.N. in New York that it was up to the U.S. use in a research reactor. never give up our right to nuclear energy.” to repair relations with the Arab world, Ordinarily it would be unthinkable for a He joined Egyptian President Mohamed and he referred to America’s “special reforeign leader, especially an ally, to pub- Morsi in calling for a nuclear-free zone in sponsibility” for the Palestinians. “If licly browbeat an American president on the Middle East. America is asking Egypt to honor its peace foreign policy. The fact that Netanyahu According to Joel Brinkley, professor of treaty with Israel,” he said, “it should live feels free to do so indicates his confidence journalism at Stanford University, many of up to its own Camp David commitment to that many Americans, most notably the the non-aligned states are helping Iran Palestinian self-rule.” American Israel Public Affairs Committee evade the sanctions. Tanzania is reflagging His message was that anti-American reand its cohorts in Congress, feel far more Iranian oil tankers, Iraq and China are sentment will persist in the Middle East loyalty to Israel and its right-wing leader laundering cash through their banks, and until the U.S. insists on Israel’s withdrawal NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

9


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from the occupied territories. Unfortunately, the suffering of three million Palestinians under occupation has become invisible to most Americans, who are told that Israel’s 550 checkpoints, 26-foot-high wall deep inside Palestinian territory, expropriation of Palestinian water and land for illegal settlements, and strict control over Palestinian trade and movement are needed to protect Israel from terrorism. Mitt Romney played to this theme in midSeptember, saying, “Palestinians have no interest in establishing peace.” They are “committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel,” he added. Meanwhile U.N. agencies are warning that the economic situation in Gaza and the West Bank is headed for a crisis. In the West Bank, where youth unemployment is at nearly 30 percent, a drop in international aid has left the Palestinian Authority short of the funds it needs to meet its payroll and cover its budget. Austerity measures imposed by the Authority, and higher prices charged by the Israeli gasoline monopoly, have caused widespread protests, with demonstrators directing their fury toward President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The two men are respected by the West for developing the institutions necessary for a state and instituting sound fiscal policy. They have also succeeded in keeping down protests and protecting Israel’s security. But they have received no help from Israel and the U.S. toward achieving Palestinian independence, and consequently their popularity has plummeted. It is even uncertain how long the Palestinian Authority itself can survive without more support. As the U.N. General Assembly reconvened this fall the Palestinians planned to draw attention to their plight by requesting an upgrade of their status to nonvoting member. The need for such attention has become acute, according to the latest U.N. report on Gaza. Because of Israeli restric10

tions on exports and fishing, more than 40 percent of Gazans live in poverty. Gaza “will no longer be livable,” according to the study, unless there are extensive improvements to its infrastructure, health, and sanitation services. Gaza’s ordeals are vividly portrayed in a documentary film titled “Tears of Gaza” that opened in New York on Sept. 18. The film shows scene after scene of carnage carried out by Israeli forces in the winter of 2008-9, and the human and physical damage they left behind. Film footage taken by several Palestinian photographers contains “images so terrible they repel rational explanation,” New York Times critic Jeannette Catsoulis wrote. As she described them, “A rain of nighttime missiles is followed by wrenching shots of suffocated infants being hauled from pulverized homes. Tiny broken bodies—some seemingly fired on at point-blank range—blanket the film....the stunned reactions of three surviving children shape a quiet meditation on lives irretrievably altered.” Israel’s three-week operation labeled Cast Lead killed 1,400 Palestinians, including 300 children, and caused massive destruction. A scrupulously documented report by a U.N. Human Rights Commission team headed by Justice Richard Goldstone found Israel guilty of wantonly killing civilians, but Israel denied blame and accused Palestinian fighters of using civilians as human shields. The U.S. Congress and the Obama administration joined with Israel in condemning the report. It was not the first time the U.S. helped cover up a crime committed by Israel. By a timely coincidence, the film opened on the 30th anniversary of the rape, killing and dismemberment of some 900 Palestinian women, children and old men in the Beirut refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila on Sept. 16-18, 1982 (see story p. 23). The slaughter was carried out by Phalangist fighters armed and trained by Israel, while THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

for three days Israeli troops overlooking the scene kept the killers supplied with water, lights, and ammunition. A Sept. 16 New York Times op-ed by Seth Anziska, a doctoral candidate in history at Columbia University, revealed new details of U.S. complicity in that crime. Israel had invaded Lebanon in June of 1982 in order to rid the country of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and after heavy Israeli bombing and the death of 30,000 Lebanese civilians, the PLO fighters agreed to leave for Tunisia. The U.S. pledged in return to protect their families. Reagan administration officials were horrified, therefore, when they learned what was happening in the camps, and demanded that Israel call an immediate halt. Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon refused, insisting that there were 2,000 to 3,000 “terrorists” in the camps, and the Americans withdrew their objections. Anziska writes, “The transcript of the Sept. 17 meeting between U.S. and Israeli officials reveals that the Americans were browbeaten by Sharon’s false insistence that the ‘terrorists’ needed mopping up.” He concludes, “The Sabra and Shatila massacre severely undercut America’s influence in the Middle East, and its moral authority plummeted.” Americans who ask, “Why do they hate us?” have only to look at their government’s role as Israel’s enabler, and Israel’s willingness to mislead its benefactor to further its own ends. It is a message to remember as Israel’s current prime minister attempts to pressure the U.S. into starting a war against Iran that can lead only to disaster. ❑ (Advertisement)

The Children’s Relief Fund Sponsoring Needy Children in Palestine and Lebanon since 1983 For donation and sponsorship opportunities visit: www.TheCRF.net A charity of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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Iraq: Ten Years, a Million Lives and Trillions Of Dollars Later WhatThey TheySaid What Said

By Rep. Dennis Kucinich en years ago today the debate over the

a resolution promoted by the Bush administration. The war in Iraq will cost the United States as much as $5 trillion. It played a role in spurring the global financial crisis. Four thousand, four hundred and eighty eight Americans were killed. More than 33,000 were injured. As many as 1,000,000 innocent Iraqi civilians were killed. The monetary cost of the war to Iraq is incalculable. A sectarian civil war has ravaged Iraq for nearly a decade. Iraq has become home to al-Qaeda. The war in Iraq was sold to Congress and the American people with easily disproved lies. We must learn from this dark period in American history to ensure that we do not repeat the same mistakes. And we must hold accountable those who misled the American public. On Oct. 2, 2002, the day the legislation to authorize war in Iraq was introduced, I sent and personally distributed a memo to my colleagues in Congress refuting point-bypoint every reason given by the Bush administration to go to war. On Oct. 3, 2002, I held a press conference with 25 members of Congress and then presented an hour-long explanation to Congress on the House floor, refuting the lies upon which the cause of war was predicated. It was clear from information publicly available at the time that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), that Iraq had no connection to 9/11, and that Iraq was not a threat to the United States. Anyone who wanted to look could have seen the same information that I did. Yet some of America's top political leaders bought into the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld drumbeat of war. Two leading Democrats were among those taken in by the White House hype and the WMD argument: “I believe the facts that have brought us to this fateful vote are not in doubt. Saddam Hussain is a tyrant who has tortured and killed his own people...[I]ntelligence reports show that Saddam Hussain has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons Former presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has served in Congress since 1996. This article was first posted on <http://kucinich.house.gov>, Oct. 2, 2012. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

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TIraq war came to Congress in the form of

Iraqis inspect the site of a car bomb in central Baghdad’s Karrada district, Sept. 30, 2012. Nine car bombs and a shooting occurred that day in six Iraqi cities and towns, killing at least 15 people and wounding 42, officials said. stock, his missile delivery capability and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists including alQaeda members.” Sen. Hillary Clinton (DNY), Oct. 10, 2002. “September 11 was the ultimate wake-up call. We must now do everything in our power to prevent further terrorist attacks and ensure that an attack with a weapon of mass destruction cannot happen.…the first candidate we must worry about is Iraq… [Saddam Hussain] continues to develop weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear devices.” Leader of the Democratic Caucus in the House Richard Gephardt (DMO), Oct. 10, 2002. Even the most trusted newspapers around the country blindly repeated as fact grossly incorrect assertions by leaders of both parties. “No further debate is needed to establish that Saddam Hussain is an evil dictator whose continued effort to build unconventional weapons in defiance of clear United Nations prohibitions threatens the Middle East and beyond.” The New York Times, Editorial Board, Oct. 3, 2002. Notwithstanding the blizzard of disinforTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

mation, 133 Members of Congress voted against the resolution that authorized the use of military force in Iraq, including nearly two-thirds of the Democratic Caucus in the House. Seven Republicans, including Ron Paul (R-TX), also voted against the resolution. In the Senate, the vote was 77 to 23 in favor of a war of choice. Ten years ago Congress voted to wage war on a nation that did not attack us. That decision undermined our fiscal and national security. To this day we are suffering from the blowback. While most of the troops are home, the United States maintains a significant presence in Iraq through the State Department and its thousands of private security contractors. The war against Iraq was based on lies. Thousands of Americans and perhaps a million Iraqis were sacrificed for those lies. New wars have been propagated in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia pursuant to the neverending “War on Terror.” This mindset puts us at the edge of war against Iran. Ten years and trillions of dollars later, the American people by and large still do not know the truth. It is time to usher in a new period of truth and reconciliation. ❑ 11


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Why Do Arabs and Muslims Hate America? SpecialReport

STRDEL/AFP/GETTYIMAGES

By Patrick Seale

Maldivian demonstrators carry placards as they march to the U.N. office in Male, the capital city, to protest the anti-Muslim film “Innocence of Muslims,” Sept. 14, 2012. aced with a dramatic outbreak of anti-

FAmerican violence by Arabs and Mus-

lims in a score of countries—including the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi—the American reaction has been one of puzzlement, outrage and a thirst for revenge. Send in the Marines! Few Americans seem to understand that their country is paying for decades of grossly mistaken policies. Take the Palestine problem. Most Americans have long since dismissed it from their minds and consciences. But Arabs and Muslims have not. Israel’s 45-year-long oppression of the Palestinians—the cruel siege of Gaza, the relentless land-grab on the West Bank—remains a major source of humiliation and rage. The United States bears the prime responsibility because, having sustained Israel in every possible Patrick Seale is a leading British writer on the Middle East. His latest book is The Struggle for Arab Independence: Riad el-Solh and the Makers of the Modern Middle East (Cambridge University Press). Copyright © 2012 Patrick Seale. Distributed by Agence Global. 12

way, it has failed to persuade it to give the Palestinians a fair deal. Some American presidents have tried to break the Arab-Israeli logjam but were defeated by domestic politics and by obdurate Israeli leaders. Jimmy Carter was defeated by Menachem Begin; George H.W. Bush by Yitzhak Shamir; Bill Clinton almost clinched a deal before he left office but was sabotaged by pro-Israel officials like Dennis Ross. Barack Obama’s defeat by Binyamin Netanyahu has turned the huge hopes he first aroused into bitter disappointment. The poison of the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict continues to inflict grave damage on the United States and to threaten Israel’s long-term future. There will be no peace in the region until a fair settlement is reached. But no president has dared exert American power in this cause. Not only has the United States failed to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, it has also built Israel up into the regional bully, and must therefore be judged complicit in its numerous assaults against its neighbors. The origins of this policy may be traced to Israel’s comprehensive victory in 1967, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

which caused Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to view it as the guard-dog of America’s regional interests. Kissinger’s idea was to bolster Israel with funds and weapons in order to keep the Arabs down and the Russians out. His plan reached fruition after the 1973 October war, when he plotted to exclude the Palestinians from the post-war settlement and remove Egypt from the Arab military line up, thus laying the foundations for the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. “Remove a wheel, and the car won’t run,” was the triumphant Israeli version. Indeed, the treaty guaranteed Israel’s supremacy for the next three decades, while exposing Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinians to the full force of Israeli power. Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, killing 17,000 people. It expelled the PLO and sought to turn Lebanon into an Israeli protectorate. Syria fought back; the man who was to serve as Israel’s vassal was assassinated; and the American-brokered Israel-Leban ese accord was scrapped. But not before Israel seized Beirut and presided over the horrific massacre by right-wing Christians of at least 800 Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Israel remained in occupation of south Lebanon for the next 18 years until driven out in 2000 by Hezbollah guerrillas—whom the United States still insists on calling “terrorists.” Americans have rarely paused to ask themselves why they were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. Palestine was certainly a motive. Another was the severe punishment inflicted by the United States on Iraq in expelling it from Kuwait in 1991 and then in starving it over the next 13 years with punitive sanctions, which are said to have resulted in the death of half a million Iraqi babies. Yet another major motive was the callous way the United States treated the tens of thousands of Arab fighters from across the region—25,000 from Yemen alone— whom it had recruited and armed to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. Once the Russians withdrew in 1989, Washington dropped the mujaheddin. Large numbers of these “Afghan Arabs,” angry, alienated and Continued on page 14 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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How a Group of Christians Smearing Muslims Benefits the Jewish State SpecialReport

By Maidhc Ó Cathail n the course of his much-ridiculed albeit

the U.N. General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asserted that “the medieval forces of radical Islam” stand in the way of Israel’s desire for “a Middle East of progress and peace.” As evidence of these freedom-hating, anti-modern forces supposedly “bent on world conquest,” Netanyahu cited the Sept. 11 besieging of U.S. embassies throughout the region. The Israeli prime minister was repeating a theme he had been given the opportunity to develop earlier in an interview on prime-time American television. Addressed by NBC’s “Meet the Press” host David Gregory as “the leader of the Jewish people” (Gregory himself is Jewish), Netanyahu was asked whether he thought a “containment strategy” would work on Iran, as it had with the Soviet Union. Iran was different, Netanyahu responded, because its “rationality” could not be relied upon since it is “guided by a leadership with an unbelievable fanaticism.” To emphasize the purported threat of nucleararmed mullahs in Tehran, the Israeli leader drew a terrifying mental picture for his American audience: “It’s the same fanaticism that you see storming your embassies today. You want these fanatics to have nuclear weapons?” While there is much controversy about the reasons for the assaults on U.S. diplomatic missions on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, widespread Muslim outrage over a YouTube video insulting the Prophet Muhammad was clearly a factor in triggering at least some of the ensuing antiAmerican riots. In light of Netanyahu’s subsequent emphasis on these vivid examples of “fanaticism” to advance the narrative of an Iranian “nuclear threat” in an increasingly unstable region in which Tel Aviv remains Washington’s “one reliable ally,” it’s certainly worth exploring whether the deliberately offensive antiMaidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

DAVID MCNEW/GETTY IMAGES

Ideadly serious ACME bomb speech to

Members of the Muslim Congress demonstrate in Hollywood against hatred and religious intolerance, Sept. 22, 2012. Islam video may have been the work of pro-Israel provocateurs. As former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said on NBC’s “Morning Joe” regarding what position America should take toward the Muslim world, “If there are evil forces at work trying to provoke violence between us and you, we have the obligation to investigate and to crack down.” In what appears to have been an artfully contrived red herring, initial reports did indeed point to an Israeli source of the provocative video. The Wall Street Journal and Associated Press—two media outlets often accused of pro-Israel bias—were suspiciously credulous of someone claiming to be an Israeli-American real estate developer who said he was the writer and director of “Innocence of Muslims.” This “Sam Bacile” gratuitously added that the production had been funded by “about 100 Jewish donors.” Almost immediately, the dubious story was debunked by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg—a former prison guard in the Israel Defense Forces whose reporting has at key junctures served to advance Tel Aviv’s interests—when a selfTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

described “militant Christian activist” named Steve Klein assured him that “the State of Israel is not involved.” Absolving the Jewish state of any culpability, Klein eagerly pointed the finger at Egyptian Copts and American evangelicals. A selfsatisfied Goldberg summed up the story in a tweet: “A group of Christians smearing Muslims libels Jews.” Notwithstanding Goldberg’s terse dismissal of an Israeli connection, the Jew-libeling Christians actually turned out to have close ties to the pro-Israel Islamophobia network led by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Spencer’s Jihad Watch group has been indirectly funded by Aubrey Chernick, a Los Angeles-based software security entrepreneur and former trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the influential think tank created in 1985 by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Spencer’s provocative writings on Islam are also publicized by The Gatestone Institute, whose founder and director Nina Rosenwald has held leadership positions in AIPAC and other mainstream pro-Israel or13


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ganizations. In a July 2012 profile in The Nation magazine, Max Blumenthal dubbed the heiress to the Sears Roebuck fortune “The Sugar Mama of Anti-Islam Hate.” This past February, in a post on her Atlas Shrugs blog entitled “A Movie about Muhammad: An Idea whose Time Has Come,” Geller solicited funds for a film that would show “Muhammad’s raids, plunders, massacres, rapes, assassinations and other crimes.” According to the controversial pro-Israel provocateur, it was “a brilliant idea” by Ali Sina, whom she introduced as a “renowned ex-Muslim author, founder of FaithFreedom.org and SION Board member.” SION, whose similarity to Zion is hardly coincidental, stands for “Stop Islamization of Nations,” a group cofounded by Geller and Spencer which held its inaugural International World Freedom Congress in New York on Sept. 11 “to combat the Islamic supremacist war against free speech.” Ali Sina’s solicitation for funds assured readers of Geller’s blog that “given the subject matter” it could become “one of the most seen motion pictures ever.” Revealingly, he asked them, “Recall Danish cartoons?”—an earlier media-catalyzed provocation in which pro-Israel, anti-Islam propagandists such as Daniel Pipes cited freedom of speech as they incited Muslim outrage against the West. Two years earlier, on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, Geller and her partners-inprovocation held a rally to protest the construction of an Islamic community center a few blocks from the site of the demolished World Trade Center. Among those who took part were a couple of extremist Coptic Christian activists who would later be involved in the making and distribution of “Innocence of Muslims.” Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital, another EgyptianAmerican named Morris Sadek was filmed with a crucifix in one hand and in the other a Bible with the American flag sticking out of it, shouting “Islam is evil!” As McClatchey reported on Sept. 15, it was Sadek who had triggered the antiAmerican outrage in the Muslim world with a timely phone call to an Egyptian reporter. On Sept. 4, the Washington, DCbased provocateur phoned Gamel Girgis, who covers Christian emigrants for the al Youm al Sabaa daily newspaper, to tell him about a movie he had produced. According to Girgis, Sadek wanted to screen it on Sept. 11 “to reveal what was behind the terrorists’ actions that day—Islam.” As with most of the mainstream media’s coverage of the post-Bacile story, the McClatchey report made no mention of Mor14

ris Sadek’s ties to the Geller-Spencer Islamophobia network or his extreme pro-Israel views. On his blog dedicated to the “National American Coptic Assembly”—of which he describes himself as “a president”—Sadek provides an erratically punctuated outline of what he claims should be “The Coptic Position on Israel”: We recognize the sacred right of the state of Israel and the Israeli people to the land of historic Israel. “The right of Return” of the Jewish people to the land of their foremothers and forefathers is a sacred right. It has no statute of limitation. The return must continue to enrich the Middle East. We recognize Jerusalem as simply a Jewish city, It must never be divided. She is, and shall always be, the united capital of Israel. The future of the Palestinians lies with the Arab states. A Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria constitute an imminent danger to world peace. The Chantilly, Virginia-based National American Coptic Assembly, Inc., a private company with a staff of two, has an estimated annual revenue of $97,000. Considering the fawning pro-Israel statements of its principal—not to mention his priceless contribution to Netanyahu’s relentless campaign to induce a U.S. attack on the “fanatics” in Tehran—it’s not too difficult to speculate as to the most likely source of that income. ❑

Why Hate America?… Continued from page 12

battle-hardened, were let loose on the region. Some caused mayhem in their own countries; others joined Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. George W. Bush’s “global war on terror” after 9/11 was another grotesque misuse of American power. Instead of using police methods to hunt down al-Qaeda, the United States blundered into war in Afghanistan—where, 12 years later, it is still inflicting and taking casualties. It then allowed itself to be tricked by Paul Wolfowitz and other pro-Israel neocons into invading Iraq—a country which the neocons, after the Iran-Iraq war, saw as a possible threat to Israel’s eastern front. Some 1.4 million Iraqis are estimated to have died as a result of the occupation and destruction of Iraq, together with about 4,500 Americans. This was the heyday of the militarization of American foreign policy—brutal wars, extraordinary rendition and routine torTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

ture, the expansion of overseas bases (including half a dozen in the Arab Gulf states), a grossly inflated military budget— still around $700 billion a year! The catalogue of blunders continues to this day. Instead of engaging with Iran as he promised to do when he came to office, Obama has waged an undeclared war against the Islamic Republic with “crippling sanctions” and cyber attacks— largely, it would seem, to prevent Israel from dragging America into yet another Middle East war. The chance of a “winwin” deal with Tehran—which would have allowed Iran to produce low-enriched uranium for electricity generation while giving up 20 percent uranium—has been thrown away because Israel insists that Iran’s nuclear industry be destroyed altogether. The United States is now attempting to bring down not just the Iranian regime but the Syrian regime as well, indeed the whole Tehran-Damascus-Hezbollah axis which has dared challenge Israel’s hegemony. Little Israel has now turned the tables on its mighty patron: Instead of Israel being America’s guard dog, it is the United States which has become Israel’s guard dog, harassing, sanctioning, demonizing and waging wars on Israel’s enemies on its behalf. Americans may have forgotten these facts, if they ever knew them, but the Arabs and Iranians have not. If this were not bad enough, Obama has authorized a vast expansion of U.S. drone attacks against alleged Islamic militants in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, inevitably causing large numbers of civilian casualties and inflaming local populations against the United States. On the receiving end of brutal American policies, it is hardly a surprise that Arabs and Muslims hit back when they can. Has the United States given the Middle East security? Or has it spread calamitous insecurity? Does the Gulf really need the U.S. 5th Fleet, squadrons of warplanes and thousands of infantry and armor? Is the U.S. presence stabilizing or destabilizing? Might it not be time to disengage? The Islamic revival, which has been such a striking feature of the Arab Spring, should be seen as a rejection of Western meddling and of Western controls, and a reaffirmation of Muslim identity. It is only the latest phase in the Arabs’ long struggle for independence. The vile film about the Prophet Muhammad may have been the spark which set Arab and Muslim anger alight, but it was only able to do so because of the large quantities of highly combustible material around. ❑ NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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Romney Assails Obama’s “Passivity” in Foreign Policy, Middle East SpecialReport

JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

By Jim Lobe

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivers a foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA, Oct. 8, 2012. n what was billed as a major foreign pol-

Iicy address, Republican presidential can-

didate Mitt Romney on Oct. 8 assailed Barack Obama for “passivity” in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, arguing that it was “time to change course” in the Middle East, in particular. Dispensing with some of the neoconservative rhetoric he has used in the past, he nonetheless argued that the “risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when [Obama] took office” and that Washington should tie itself ever more closely to Israel. “I will re-affirm our historic ties to Israel and our abiding commitment to its security—the world must never see any daylight between our two nations,” he told cadets at the Virginia Military Institute, adding that Washington must “also make Jim Lobe is Washington, DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service. His blog on U.S. foreign policy can be read at <www.lobelog.com>. Copyright © 2012 IPS-Inter Press Service. All rights reserved. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

clear to Iran through actions—not just words—that their [sic] nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.” As he has in the past, he also called for building up the U.S. Navy, pressing Washington’s NATO allies to increase their military budgets in the face of a Vladimir Putin-led Russia, and ensuring that Syrian rebels “who share our values …obtain the arms they need to defeat [President Bashar al-] Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets.” Independent analysts described the speech as an effort to move to the center on foreign-policy issues, much as he did on economic issues during his debate with Obama the previous week. As a result, they said, his specific policy prescriptions did not differ much, if at all, from those pursued by the current administration. “In a speech where he attempted to be more centrist, he ended up articulating positions that sound like those of Obama,” noted Charles Kupchan, a foreign-policy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

who teaches at Georgetown University. Indeed, in both tone and policy, the speech marked a compromise between his neoconservative and aggressive nationalist advisers on the one hand, and his more realist aides on the other. Absent from the speech altogether, for example, was any reference to making the 21st century “an American Century,” a neoconservative mantra since the mid1990s that Romney used repeatedly in his one major foreign-policy address during the Republican primary campaign almost exactly one year earlier. The latest speech comes at a critical moment in the presidential campaign. While Romney was lagging badly in the polls in late September, his strong performance in the first presidential debate against a surprisingly listless Obama has revived his prospects. While Obama had been leading by about four percentage points nationwide before the debate, the margin fell to only two percentage points, while on-line bet15


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tors at the intrade Web site lowered the chances of an Obama victory from nearly 80 percent to 64 percent. Obama’s seeming passivity during the debate may have played a role in the Romney campaign’s decision to deliver a foreign-policy address, if for no other reason than that it highlighted the argument that many Republican foreign-policy critics, especially the neoconservatives, have been building over the past year: that the president’s policies in the Middle East, in particular, have been too passive, and that “leading from behind”—a phrase used by an anonymous White House official quoted in The New Yorker magazine 18 months ago to describe Obama’s low-profile but critical support for the rebellion against Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi – was unacceptable amid what Romney described in his speech as the world’s “longing for American leadership.” Indeed, in the wake of September’s siege of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the killing of the U.S. ambassador and three other embassy staffers in Benghazi, Romney’s vice presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, and other surrogates have tried to link recent displays of anti-U.S. sentiment and Islamic militancy in the region to disasters,

notably the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, that plagued—and perhaps ultimately doomed—former President Jimmy Carter’s re-election bid in 1980. While Romney did not refer to that period, he argued that September’s violence in the Middle East demonstrated “how the threats we face have grown so much worse” as the “struggle between liberty and tyranny, justice and oppression, hope and despair” in the region has intensified. “And the fault lines of this struggle can be seen clearly in Benghazi itself.” Recalling the U.S. response to a similar struggle in Europe after World War II and invoking then-Secretary of State George Marshall (without, however, referring to the Marshall Plan that poured U.S. aid and investment into Western Europe), Romney argued that Washington should lead now as it did then. “Unfortunately, this president’s policies have not been equal to our best examples of world leadership,” he said, adding, “…it is the responsibility of our president to use America’s great power to shape history— not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events. “Unfortunately, that is exactly where we find ourselves in the Middle East under

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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

President Obama,” he said. “…We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds,…and the perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity. “It is clear that the risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when the president took office,” he claimed, citing the killings in Benghazi, the Syrian civil war, “violent extremists on the march,” and tensions surrounding Iran’s nuclear program. On specific policy recommendations, however, Romney failed to substantially distinguish his own from Obama’s. Indeed, in contrast to recently disclosed off-therecord remarks to funders in which he indicated that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was likely unresolvable, he said he would “recommit” the U.S. to the creation of a “democratic, prosperous Palestinian state,” arguing that “only a new president” can make that possible. On Egypt, he promised to condition aid to the government on democratic reform and maintaining the peace treaty with Israel; on Libya, he said he would pursue those responsible for the murders of U.S. diplomats. On Iran, he promised to impose new sanctions and tighten existing ones, as well as build up U.S. military forces in the Gulf; on Afghanistan, he said he would weigh the advice of his military commanders on the pace of withdrawal before the end of 2014. On Syria, he promised to work with Washington’s partners to “identify and organize” opposition elements that “share our values” and ensure they get the weapons needed to defeat Assad. In each case, he suggested that Obama’s policies were less forceful, but did not explain how. “On matters from Syria to Afghanistan to sanctions on Iran, the speech is essentially a description of current U.S. policies,” said Paul Pillar, a former top CIA Middle East analyst now at Georgetown University. “One struggles to discern how a Romney policy would work differently.” Pillar was especially critical of Romney’s assertion that the risk of conflict in Middle East was greater than in 2009, “given that Obama ended U.S. involvement in the one war in the Middle East in which the United States was directly participating, and given that the current greatest risk of war comes from the Israeli prime minister [Binyamin Netanyahu] with whom Romney says we should have no daylight between us.” ❑ NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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Of Bombs and Comics SpecialReport

By Uri Avnery

y first reaction to Binyamin Ne-

U.N. General Assembly was shame. Shame that the supreme elected representative of my country would stoop to such a primitive rhetorical device, bordering on the childish. (One Israeli commentator suggested putting him on a rug with a lot of paper and Indian ink, and letting him play to his heart’s content.) He was speaking to a half-empty chamber (Israeli TV was careful not to show the entire hall during the speech), and the audience consisted of second-grade diplomats, but these were still educated people. Even Netanyahu must have realized that they would despise this display. But Netanyahu was not talking to them at all. He was talking to the Jewish audience at home and in the U.S. This audience was proud of him. He succeeded in touching their deepest emotions. To understand this, one must recall the historical memories. Jews were a small, powerless community everywhere. They were completely dependent on the Gentile ruler. Whenever their situation was in danger, the Jews chose the most prominent person among them to plead their cause before the emperor, king or prince. When this “pleader” (Shtadlan in Hebrew) was successful and the danger was averted, he won the gratitude of the whole community. In some cases, he would be remembered for generations, like the mythical Mordecai in the Book of Esther. Netanyahu fulfilled this function. He went to the very center of Gentile power, today’s equivalent of the Persian emperor, and pleaded the case of the Jews threatened with annihilation by the current heir of Haman the Evil (same Book of Esther). And what an idea of genius to exhibit the drawing of the Bomb! It was reproduced on the front pages of hundreds of newspapers and on TV news programs around the world, including The New York Times! For Netanyahu this was “the Speech of Uri Avnery, a former member of the Israeli Knessset, is a founder of Gush Shalom, <www.gush-shalom.org>. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES

Mtanyahu’s exhibition of comics at the

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu points to a red line he drew on a cartoon-like drawing of a bomb while addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 27, 2012. his Life.” To be precise, as one TV commentator dryly pointed out, it was the eighth Speech of his Life at the General Assembly. His popularity soared to new heights. Moses himself, the supreme pleader at the court of Pharaoh, could not have done better. But the crux of the matter was hidden somewhere between the torrents of words. The “inevitable” attack on Iran’s nuclear installations to prevent the Second Holocaust was postponed to next spring or summer. After blustering for months that the deadly attack was imminent, any minute now, no minute to spare, it disappeared into the mist of the future. Why? What happened? Well, one reason was the polls indicating that Barack Obama would be re-elected. Netanyahu had doggedly staked all his cards on Mitt Romney, his ideological clone. But Netanyahu is also a True Believer in polls. It seems that Netanyahu’s THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

advisers convinced him to hedge his bet. The evil Obama might win, in spite of the Sheldon Adelson millions. Especially now, after George Soros has staked his millions on the incumbent. Netanyahu had the brilliant idea of attacking Iran just before the U.S. elections, hoping that the hands of all American politicians would be tied. Who would dare to restrain Israel at such a time? Who would refuse help to Israel when the Iranians counter-attacked? But like so many of Netanyahu’s brilliant ideas, this one, too, flopped. Obama has told Netanyahu in no uncertain terms: No attack on Iran before the elections. Or else… The next president of the United States of America—whoever that may be—will tell Netanyahu the same after the elections. As I have said before (excuse me for quoting myself again), a military attack on Iran is out of the question. The price is intolerably high. The geographic, economic 17


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and military facts all conspire to prevent it. The Strait of Hormuz would be shut, the world economy would collapse, a long and devastating war would ensue. Even if Mitt Romney were in power, surrounded by a crowd of neocons, it would not change these facts one bit. Obama’s case is very much strengthened by the economic news coming out of Iran. The international sanctions have had amazing results. The skeptics—led by Netanyahu—are in disarray. Contrary to the anti-Islamic caricature, Iran is a normal country, with a normal middle class and citizens with a high political awareness. They know that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a fool and if he had really wanted to produce a nuclear bomb, would he have made all these idiotic speeches about Israel and/or the Holocaust? Shouldn’t he have kept his mouth shut and worked hard at it? But since he is about to go away anyhow, no need to make a revolution just now. The practical upshot: Sorry, no war.

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Of Tails and Dogs The whole affair brings up again the WaltMearsheimer controversy. Does Israel control U.S. policy? Does the tail wag the dog? To a very large extent, that is undoubtedly the case. Enough to follow the present election campaign and perceive how both candidates treat the Israeli government obsequiously, competing to outdo the other with words of flattery and support. Jewish votes play an important role in swing states, and Jewish money plays a huge role in financing both candidates. (O tempora, o mores! Once there was a Jewish joke: A Polish nobleman threatens his neighboring nobleman: “If you hit my Jew, I shall hit your Jew!” Now one Jewish billionaire threatens another Jewish billionaire: “If you give a million to your Goy, I shall give a million to my Goy!”)

Thank you in advance for ki d t ibb ti

The Obama administration’s Middle East policy staff is manned by Zionist Jews, down to the U.S. ambassador in Tel Aviv, who speaks better Hebrew than Avigdor Lieberman. Dennis Ross, the grave digger of Middle East peace, seems to be everywhere. Romney’s neocons, too, are mostly Jews. Jews have a huge influence—up to a point. This point is extremely significant. There was a minor illustration: Jonathan Pollard, the American-Jewish spy, was sent to prison for life. Many people (including myself) consider this penalty unduly harsh. Yet no American Jew dared to (Advertisement)

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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

protest, AIPAC kept quiet and no American president was swayed by Israeli calls for clemency. The U.S. security establishment said No, and No it was. The war on Iran is a million times more important. It concerns vital American interests. The American military opposes it (as does the Israeli military). Everybody in Washington, DC knows that this is no side issue. It touches the very basis of American power in the world. And lo and behold, the U.S. says NO to Israel. The president says coolly that in matters of vital security interests, no foreign country can order the U.S. commander in chief to draw red lines and commit himself to a war. Especially not with the help of a comic-book drawing. Israelis are astounded. What? We, the country of God’s chosen people, are foreigners? Just like other foreigners? This is a very important lesson. When things really come to a head, the dog is still the dog and the tail is still the tail. So what about Netanyahu’s Iran commitment? Recently I was asked by a foreign journalist if Netanyahu could survive the elimination of the “military option” against Iran, after talking for months about nothing else. What about the Iranian Hitler? What about the coming Holocaust? I told him not to worry. Netanyahu can easily get out of it by claiming that the whole thing was really a ruse to get the world to impose tougher sanctions on Iran. But was it? People of influence in Israel are divided. The first camp worries that our prime minister is really off his rocker. That he is obsessed with Iran, perhaps clinically unbalanced, that Iran has become an idée fixe. The other camp believes that the whole thing was, right from the beginning, a hoax to divert attention from the one issue that really matters: Peace with Palestine. In this he has been hugely successful. For months now, Palestine has been missing from the agenda of Israel and the entire world. Palestine? Peace? What Palestine, What peace? And while the world stares at Iran like a hypnotized rabbit at a snake, settlements are enlarged and the occupation deepened, and we are sailing proudly toward disaster. And that is not at all a comic book story. ❑ NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


hishmeh_19_Special Report 10/11/12 1:53 PM Page 19

Time Is Running Out for Peace SpecialReport

By George S. Hishmeh

Security Council. This time around, he Palestinian Question has the Palestinians feel confident of temporarily shelved, their move, since they have extenhopefully only until November, sive support among Third World much to the disappointment of governments and General Assembly many Palestinians who were exmembers do not have veto power. pecting the ball would start rolling Should the Palestinians succeed, in September. they can then join other U.N.-related In his Sept. 27 address to the U.N. organizations like the International General Assembly, the Palestinian Criminal Court. Here, Israel is conleader Mahmoud Abbas painted a cerned that the Palestinians could horrendous view of “the catathen complain about its policies on strophic danger of the racist Israeli settlements, the occupation of the settlement of our country, PalesWest Bank and the Israeli siege of tine.” He underlined the daily realGaza. ity of the Palestinians: “At least 535 The other side of the coin is that attacks [were] perpetrated since the the U.S. government can, as it has beginning of this year;” and milithreatened, cut any financial aid to tant Israeli settlers harassing “our the Palestinians, a measure that could people, our mosques, churches and backfire, as the recent events in the monasteries and our homes and Middle East illustrated tragically. schools.” In the end, he continued, The oil-rich Arab states may also face the “final map,” would constitute a serious challenge if they turn down “small Palestinian enclaves surany Palestinian request for financial rounded by large Israeli settlement assistance, since the Palestinians are blocs and walls, checkpoints and in a desperate financial situation. vast security zones and roads deCome November, the turbulence voted to [illegal] settlers.” in the Middle East may once again Regrettably, neither Western, paremerge should the Palestinian Questicularly American, officials, nor the media have acknowledged this view Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas prepares tion remain unresolved. If Obama returns to the White House there will or castigated any of the illegal Israeli to address the U.N. General Assembly, Sept. 27, 2012. be high expectations that he will imactions. In fact, since President Barack Obama launched his short-lived elected that month, as U.S. polls seemed to mediately pursue a peaceful settlement of peace process at the beginning of his term, indicate—prior to the first presidential de- the Arab-Israeli question. The view is also shared by many Arabs and Israelis. Israel’s policies have hardly been criticized. bate, at least? The quest for a Palestinian-Israeli settleThe Guardian of London reported that Despite the objections of the U.S. government and obviously Israel, the Palestin- European government representatives had ment has of late gained ground among sevian president dropped his bombshell: “In unexpectedly received a ”private” U.S. eral Israelis and American Jews. Jeremy order to enhance the chances of peace, we memorandum at the U.N. General Assem- Ben-Ami, executive director of leftist prowill continue our efforts to obtain full bly in late September that warned them Israel American group J Street, feels that membership for Palestine at the United Na- against supporting the Palestinian move. It “the next U.S. president will have only a tions.” He added that as a result of his “in- cautioned that this step “would be ex- brief window of meaningful diplomacy in tensive consultations” he was confident tremely counterproductive” and threaten- the months following the elections. “ Alon that “the vast majority of the world sup- ing “significant negative consequences” Ben-Meir, who has authored seven books port our endeavor aimed at salvaging the for the Palestinian National Authority, in- related to Middle East policy and is currently working on a book about the psycluding financial sanctions. chances for a just peace.” Repeating a long-held U.S. stance, the chological dimensions of the Israeli-PalesWhat is peculiar here is that Abbas did not seem perturbed by any hostile reaction memorandum said that Palestinian state- tinian conflict, writes in The Huffington from the Obama administration or Israel. hood “can only be achieved via direct ne- Post that if the Palestinian-Israeli conflict Does he believe that since his bid will be gotiations with the Israelis,” and urged Eu- “remains unresolved over the next couple in November his chances to win over U.S. ropean governments to oppose their bid for of years, it will most likely precipitate a support are more likely if Obama is re- upgraded “non-member state” status at the massive violent conflagration to the detriU.N. General Assembly, seen as a significant ment of the Israelis and Palestinians, and George S. Hishmeh is a Washington-based diminution of Palestinian ambitions after its will also severely damage the U.S. security, columnist. He was the former editor-in-chief application for full statehood failed last economic interests and its credibility in the of The Daily Star of Lebanon. year, when it was blocked by the U.S. in the [Middle East] region.” ❑ JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES

Tbeen

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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General Assembly “Debate”: From Netanyahu’s Cheap Farce to Morsi’s Urbanity

United Nations Report

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

By Ian Williams

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad waves as photographers take his picture at U.N. headquarters in New York City, Sept. 26, 2012. t will be right up there with Khrushchev

Itaking off his shoe and pounding it on

the table in front of him, or poor misled Colin Powell fumbling with pictures and diagrams. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu waving cardboard cutout cartoons of a “bomb” to illustrate his drive for war with Iran is in its own way as risible as Colonel Gadfly’s pantomime rambling performances from the same podium. Some observers were perturbed that Arab leaders did not riposte directly. This is, after all, supposed to be the United Nations General Assembly General Debate— even if, even more than usual, it seemed more like a staged reading of sequential monologues. The silences and omissions often were more significant than what was said, while when real issues actually were addressed, they tended to be by allusion. So while the Arab leaders, including those sprung from the Arab Spring, did indeed address Israeli iniquities in the occuIan Williams is a free-lance journalist based at the United Nations who blogs at <www. deadlinepundit.blogspot.com>. 20

pied territories, and have often invoked the country’s failures to engage in nuclear nonproliferation, they did not jump up to challenge the clown waving the jester’s bladder. This reporter was led to conclude that most of the world assumed it was self-evident, and therefore superfluous, to comment on the hypocrisy of a posturing ninny waving a cardboard bomb while sitting on at least 200 nuclear bombs of his own. Knowing that, however, the Arab leaders probably did not realize the extent of Israeli success in inducing amnesia in the West and, particularly in the U.S., about Israel’s nuclear arsenal. After all, when did any Western statesperson last raise the issue loudly in any public forum? Compare the acres of newsprint and hours of media time devoted to the nuclear weapons that the world unanimously agrees that Iran does not have with the deafening sound of silence about Israel. Someone, whether Arab or nonAligned, should have promptly jumped up and called Netanyahu’s bluff. In that context, while it was almost reassuring that President Barack Obama’s THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

speech spent so much time on the region, again, the silences were obtrusive. Indeed, in retrospect, Obama’s delivery was so lowkey he might have been rehearsing for his first debate with Gov. Mitt Romney. The president correctly declared that “freedom and self-determination are not unique to one culture. These are not simply American values or Western values—they are universal values. And I am convinced that ultimately government of the people, by the people, and for the people is more likely to bring about the stability, prosperity, and individual opportunity that serve as a basis for peace in our world.” But one can understand why Bahrainis and Palestinians could wonder why the U.S. arms and finances those who oppress them, or why the Sahrawis and Syrians wonder at Washington’s patient tolerance for their disenfranchisement. With major issues playing out, disguised as cheap farce by Netanyahu, it was hardly surprising that possibly the worst cinematographic production in over a century should have been mentioned in so many speeches. What President Obama called “a crude and disgusting video” sparked outrage worldwide. Of course, the president invoked the right of free speech and, implicitly, the right that Hollywood so often exercises to make very bad films. “We not only respect the freedom of religion, we have laws that protect individuals from being harmed because of how they look or what they believe...I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video. And the answer is enshrined in our laws: Our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech.” Now, much as I respect the president, actual American experience suggests that Israel is not an unmitigated good thing, or that Hamas or Hezbollah could test the First Amendment to destruction. California’s state assembly, for example, has recently condemned “anti-Semitic activities” on state campuses, which included accusations that the Israeli government is guilty of “crimes against humanity” or that Israel has engaged in “ethnic cleansing,” let alone “student and faculty-sponsored boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against Israel.” And one must not support, NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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even verbally, organizations that the FBI has decided are “terrorist.” When Obama said, “Among Israelis and Palestinians, the future must not belong to those who turn their backs on a prospect of peace. Let us leave behind those who thrive on conflict, those who reject the right of Israel to exist,” there were people wondering how to reconcile that statement with Washington’s unlimited financial and military support for an Israeli prime minister who so repeatedly has done precisely that, and who has behaved so despicably toward the president that Obama refused to meet him one on one at the U.N. They might have wondered why, if it is such a heinous crime to “reject the right of Israel to exist,” American diplomats were kicking down the doors of chancellories all over Europe demanding that they not support recognition of Palestine as a non-member state at the United Nations General Assembly, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced. The Americans have been telling Europeans that a Palestinian resolution on non-member state status “would have significant negative consequences, for the peace process itself, for the U.N. system, as well as our ability to maintain our significant financial support for the Palestinian Authority.” One can readily see the big stick, but the soft talk and the carrot seem to be missing! It leads one to wonder what the consequences would be, or why such a declaration would be so devastating. It implies that, as has been apparent for decades, Washington backs Israel in its refusal to accept that international law and U.N. decisions must be the basis for any lasting peace settlement. When the U.S. says that issues must be settled in negotiations, it is actually saying that Israel is free to bully any Palestinian interlocutors (aka credible partners for peace) into accepting whatever scraps the settler state feels free to throw their way. Or as Obama puts it, “Such a peace must come through a just agreement between the parties,” which has wiggle room. “Just” should mean in deference to international law—why instead should repossessing stolen property be dependent on the agreement of the thief? Acceptance of Palestinian statehood underlines the longstanding Palestinian strategy of reaffirming legal rights and binding decisions. Even bargaining for the famous “contiguous” settlement areas depends on international and Israeli acceptance that these are Palestinian territories for which a price must be paid. There was some good news, however: NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

Obama was sending clear signals to Netanyahu that Washington wants no part in an attack on Iran. “America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so.” He still had to do some obligatory saber-rattling, but once again, even for a regime like Tehran with few friends in the world, there must be some sympathy when the American president declares that “a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty.” There exists, of course, a regional nuclear power in flagrant denial of the Non-Proliferation Treaty which is actually and openly threatening aggressive action against other nations—and the U.S. gives it huge amounts of support!

Tips From a Muslim Brother Obama could have picked up some tips from newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who refused to live down to the stereotypes. There are many in the region, let alone internationally, who will never be happy with a Muslim brother (even a retired one) in such a position, but it would be difficult to fault Morsi’s diplomatic presentation. Declaring support for Palestinian aspirations, Morsi also recommitted to the agreements with Israel—without mentioning the country by name! He even managed to denounce Israel’s nukes by super-implication, “The will of the people, especially in our region, no longer tolerates the continued non-accession of any country to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the nonapplication of the safeguards regime to their nuclear facilities, especially if this is coupled with irresponsible policies or arbitrary threats. In this regard, the acceptance by the international community of the principle of pre-emptiveness or the attempt to legitimize it is in itself a serious matter and must be firmly confronted to avoid the prevalence of the law of the jungle. “Cognizant of the danger that the status quo entails on the security of this important region, with its natural resources and trade passages, Egypt stresses the necessity of mobilizing international efforts to hold the conference on achieving a Middle East free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction before the end of the current year 2012…” Morsi’s engagement of Iran over Syria THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

also, of course, challenged the U.S.-Israeli consensus, but he is not alone and already seems to have produced some results, since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s own discursive speech did not mention Syria— so it could be argued, and of course has been by the Turks and Brazilians, that talking to the Iranians is more productive than shunning them. But then those who denounce boycotts and disinvestment in one case often are over-eager to advocate them in other circumstances. Morsi also was relatively urbane over “the” video. Christian leaders in the West have called for blasphemy laws to be applied in the past, and few countries are absolutists on free speech. His treatment was nuanced enough to fend off criticism at home and abroad. Ahmadinejad was even more sophisticated about “the” video. He did not mention it, nor Syria, which his country has been backing, but eccentrically he did almost pander to the evangelical vote, albeit at the risk of alienating orthodox Muslims, by anticipating the return of Jesus Christ— and the Twelfth Imam. While the General Assembly debated and introduced such theological niceties, Syrians continued to die under cover of Russian and Chinese vetoes—although perhaps as a sign of a different type of endtimes, as we went to print, they actually agreed to a Security Council press statement condemning Syrian shellfire on Turkey! ❑

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A Modest Proposal: A Constitution for Israel Based on “Shared” American Values SpecialReport

By John Gee onstitutions usually set forth the prin-

Cciples by which a country will govern

itself, enshrining the basic rights and obligations of citizens, as well as broadly defining the duties of government itself. They provide a yardstick by which to judge government measures; any found to violate the constitution may be struck down by the highest legal authorities. Most nations have a constitution, even though in some cases, such as Britain’s, it is “unwritten,” formed on the basis of the great body of laws passed over centuries. More than six decades after David Ben-Gurion proclaimed its independence, however, Israel still has no constitution. This is primarily due to its inability to put together a statement that would contain the kind of commitments to equality and justice, irrespective of race, religion or gender, that most other states have crafted. Instead, it has passed a series of “basic laws,” deemed to have constitutional force, which provide some elements of what many other states include in their constitutions. Since Israel’s American supporters are very fond of claiming that the U.S. and Israel are linked by shared values, what could be more natural than that Israel should put an end to its constitutional deficit and embrace the U.S. Constitution, simply re-wording it as necessary to match Israel’s institutional framework? Why “reinvent the wheel,” after all, when Americans have tried, tested and amended their constitution over 236 years? What problems could there be? The U.S. Constitution is that of a federal republic with two legislative chambers and a strong presidency, as well as a Supreme Court that can rule on constitutional matters when called upon to do so. This system of checks and balances sometimes makes rapid decisions difficult, but protects against arbitrary rule and the undue accumulation of power in any part of the constitutional structure. By contrast, Israel has one legislative chamber—the Knesset—and its government is formed as a result of bargaining between parties after each election. Power is concentrated in the John Gee is a free-lance journalist based in Singapore, and the author of Unequal Conflict: The Palestinians and Israel. 22

Knesset, and particularly the cabinet, and the president’s authority is limited. The Supreme Court’s powers of review are limited (see below). Overall, this is a system with fewer checks and balances than the U.S. has. That disposes of Article One, Sections 2-5 of the U.S. Constitution (as well as most of Article Two).

alestinians in the P Knesset have to watch what they say and do. Article One, Section 6 gives senators and representatives protection against arrest except for “Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace” so that they may speak out freely in the execution of their responsibilities. Israel gives similar protection to members of the Knesset (MKs), but also allows their immunity to be lifted in certain circumstances, where actions are considered treasonous. The problem here is that one in five Israeli citizens is Palestinian. Most believe that an injustice was done to their people through the creation of the state of Israel in their homeland and they sympathize with their fellow Palestinians in the face of repression and land seizure in the West Bank, or wherever Israeli violence takes place. These understandable national views, when expressed by an elected representative, are liable to be regarded as treasonous by the Jewish MKs, so, unless the Muslim and Christian legislators endorse Zionist perspectives, Palestinians in the Knesset have to watch what they say and do in order to preserve their immunity. They may even have problems entering the Knesset in the first place. In 1984, the basic law concerning the Knesset was amended to ban candidates from running if they rejected the existence of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, which has posed difficulties for anyone advocating national equality for Palestinians, especially if they favored a binational state. The United States, by contrast, already upholds the equality of its citizens under the law, regardless of their color, religion or national origins, even if it sometimes falls down in practice. According to Artice One, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution, “The Privilege of the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” Israel has never lifted the state of emergency in force when the state was created (according to the 1945 Defense [Emergency] Regulations), meaning that measures against its own citizens that violate democratic norms may be excused. Powers of administrative detention (detention without trial) remain in existence, for example, even if they are not often used within Israel itself. Article Three of the U.S. Constitution upholds the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court. In practice, its decision is seen as binding, and any body against which it returns a verdict is expected to abide by its decision. Israel’s Supreme Court can be asked to rule on the legal validity of a government decision or action, but it doesn’t have the power to review primary legislation—either laws passed by the Knesset or adopted from the time of the British Mandate—which includes the 1945 Defense (Emergency) Regulations, still in force in 2012. The court has rendered decisions on a number of occasions that have been disregarded. This includes the case of the villagers of Kafr Bir’im, who were forced to leave their homes near the Lebanese border by the Israeli army in 1949 and told they could return soon. The villagers were not allowed to do so, so they petitioned the Supreme Court for the right to return. In July 1952 the court ruled that there was no reason to prevent them from returning. Nevertheless, to this day they have not been allowed to go back to their lands and rebuild their homes, which the army destroyed in 1953. Article Six of the U.S. Constitution says that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” A similar provision in a draft Israeli constitution would be likely to run into stiff opposition from the Orthodox Jewish parties, who insist on one of their own controlling the Religious Affairs Ministry.

Bill of Rights an Even Bigger Problem If the American Constitution as originally written would pose problems for Israel, things become much worse when the 10 Continued on page 37 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


hanley_23-25_Special Report 10/11/12 11:59 AM Page 23

The Heroes of Sabra and Shatila and Lebanon’s Other Refugee Camps Story and Photos by Delinda C. Hanley

SpecialReport

llen Siegel, a Jewish American nurse

Eand respected Washington, DC peace

activist, invited the Washington Report to attend the 30th commemoration of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut, Lebanon from Sept. 16 to 23. Ten years ago the late Italian journalist and activist Stefano Chiarini established “Not to Forget Sabra and Shatila,” an organization which brings internationals to Lebanon each year on the anniversary of the massacre. Siegel wanted to introduce me to the other nurses and doctors who worked with her at Gaza Hospital in Sabra refugee camp during the massacre, and join over 150 activists coming from Italy, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Turkey, Kenya, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the UK and U.S. Siegel, who grew up in Baltimore, MD, first got acquainted with Palestinians in Beirut’s refugee camps in 1972. She is a familiar figure in Washington, DC as she rolls up her sleeves and quietly volunteers for organizations like ours—selling brightly colored Palestinian embroidery, collecting funds for new glasses and eye exams for women who stitch needlework from Beit Atfal Assamoud (BAS) in Lebanon, stuffing envelopes, and saving Lebanese cats. Siegel has two cats, Dartanian, rescued from a shoe box in Beirut, and Claudia, her “Hezbollah” cat from Dahiya in southern Lebanon. In Lebanon, I soon discovered, Ellen is a rock star. In fact, all the nurses, doctors and victims Ellen introduced me to over the next few days are heroes whose stories should be known. So far there’s been only one moving documentary about them, “Gaza Hospital,” directed by Marco Pasquini (see December 2010 Washington Report, p. 55-56). As Americans back home commemorated the 11th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11 and retold tales of horror and heroism, in Lebanon we listened to survivors of another terror attack, for which no one has been held accountable. Estimates of how many people were killed during the massacre vary from 800 to 3,500. Like victims of 9/11, many bodies were lost in the rubDelinda C. Hanley is news editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. She lived in Beirut, Lebanon intermittently from 1960 to 1975. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

At the Shatila’s Martyr’s cemetery, (l-r), massacre survivor Nabil Mohamad (vice president of American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, who lost his mother and all but two of his six siblings), his son Naji, Bayan al Hout, author of Sabra and Shatila, September 1982, filmmaker Monica Maurer, whose archival footage taken 30 years ago of Sabra and Shatila is used in “Gaza Hospital,” Mohamad’s wife Elizabeth, Louise Norman, Ellen Siegel, Dr. Swee Ang and Dr. May Haddad. ble, buried in mass graves, and others disappeared when the attacking terrorists transported them away from the camps for secret executions. It all started when Israel invaded Lebanon in June 1982, hoping to destroy the Palestine Liberation Organization and transform its northern neighbor into a Christian-ruled ally. Dr. Fathieh Saudi, a Jordanian-born British pediatrician who kept a journal during Israel’s invasion, valiantly tried to save children without water, medicine or electricity during Israel’s 70-day siege of Beirut. She described blood everywhere on the streets of West Beirut, screaming children and moaning women, searching for their husbands among the 17,000 dead. Samir, a 2-day-old infant found in the street during Israel’s bombardment, still haunts her dreams, Dr. Saudi said. She could not see to find his vein and give him a life-saving injection because she had no candle. She paid tribute to her colleague Dr. Sami, who was killed during the invasion. She had traded shifts with him for an evening so she could attend an event. “I feel guilty for surviving,” Dr. Saudi revealed. “Israelis always ask Arabs to acknowledge their right to exist, but Israel must acknowledge that Palestinians, too, have rights to exist in their homeland,” Dr. Saudi observed. “Wars will never resolve THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

this issue. Beirut, Hanoi, Hiroshima. We don’t want our cities to be bombed any more. We want to live.” Many Americans and Europeans were shocked by the scenes on their televisions of Israel’s relentless bombing of Beirut. A special few, like Siegel, decided to rush to Beirut to care for the victims. By mid-August President Ronald Reagan helped negotiate a cease-fire with Israel. He arranged for the PLO to withdraw from Lebanon and promised to protect the unarmed Palestinian civilians who remained behind in the camps. By the time Siegel arrived at the end of August to volunteer at the Palestine Red Crescent Society-run Gaza Hospital, thousands of Palestinian fighters—including Yasser Arafat—had left Beirut. U.S. Marines departed Beirut on Sept. 10, and on Sept. 14 Bashir Gemayel, Lebanon’s newly elected Maronite president, head of the Phalange party, was assassinated by another Maronite affiliated with the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. Israel immediately violated the cease-fire by re-occupying West Beirut, including Sabra and Shatila. Claiming there were 2,000 to 3,000 terrorists in the camps, thenDefense Minister Ariel Sharon allowed the Phalangists to enter the camp. Israeli soldiers stood by during the mayhem, which lasted from Sept. 16 to 18, 1982. In his arti23


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Ellen Siegel and her Palestinian “sister” Nazeeha in her apartment in Gaza building. cle “A Preventable Massacre,” published in the Sept. 16, 2012 New York Times, Seth Anziska writes: “In the ensuing three-day rampage, the militia, linked to the Maronite Christian Phalange Party, raped, killed and dismembered at least 800 civilians, while Israeli flares illuminated the camps’ narrow and darkened alleyways. Nearly all of the dead were women, children and elderly men...” Anziska concludes, “The Sabra and Shatila massacre severely undercut America’s influence in the Middle East, and its moral authority plummeted.” Like Siegel, Dr. Swee Ang, an orthopedic surgeon in London, answered an international appeal to treat war victims. After the massacre, Dr. Ang said, she walked through the camp, trying to help identify the remains of victims. She can’t forget the orphans who asked her to take their pictures in front of their destroyed home. “With hands raised in a victory sign, they called out, ‘We are not afraid.’ Those children will always be my inspiration. They survived against all odds, and only 64 hours after they’d lost everything they were fearless.” Dr. Ang, who wrote From Beirut To Jerusalem: Eye-witness to Sabra-Shatila Massacre, concluded “those children can never forget. They may not make it back to Palestine in their lifetimes, but their children will.” Dr. Aziza Khalidi was the hospital administrator at Gaza Hospital, in charge of organizing supplies. “We became a field hospital, like a M*A*S*H unit,” she told me. “The hospital became a refuge, a shelter for the vulnerable. Our team of physicians, nurses and other personnel took care of people, Lebanese and Palestinian. We 24

fed them.” She recalls Umm Assad, a mother, a worker, who painstakingly cleaned the mortuary with rose water. “I’ll never forget her...We kept the maternity ward operating. As the massacre was taking place, life was going on,” Dr. Khalidi murmured. “I had to organize the evacuation—there was no safe haven. The Palestinians and Arabs had to leave first—patients, caregivers and workers. I told them, ‘Get the hell out of here—go anywhere.’ Abu Muhammad, a cook, was killed near the hospital after I told him to go. It was hard to convince the Palestinian medical team to leave. ‘It’s our obligation to stay,’ they argued. ‘It’s suicide to stay,’ I pointed out. There was an unspoken assumption that the expats could stay— they would be protected. “I made a decision not to dwell on the atrocities,” Dr. Khalidi stated. “I refuse to hate the people who committed those atrocities, but I was just numb and tired for years. Seeing the atrocities that have happened since, in Palestine, Lebanon and now Syria, brings back the horror. I don’t want to get used to it.” Louise Norman, a Swedish nurse who now visits the occupied territories to train nurses in trauma care, called the massacre “unimaginable.” She helped evacuate patients from the non-functioning Gaza hospital and stayed on for a while to work in the camps. Norman, who hadn’t been back to Lebanon since, was not expecting her return to be “such a big deal...But it was very good for me to come back.” Ben Alofs, from The Netherlands, who was a nurse in Gaza Hospital during the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

massacre, became a physician afterward and now works in the UK. Like Norman and Siegel, Alofs says they just carried on with the jobs they were trained to do. They each prefer to turn the spotlight on the nearly 455,000 Palestinians who live in Lebanon’s 12 camps, run by United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), waiting to go home. They are the real heroes of this story. The British public health journal Lancet has just published a report saying that refugees in Lebanon suffer high levels of chronic and acute illnesses. Researchers from the American University of Beirut “found that just under half of those surveyed had water leaking from their walls or roofs, conditions that can be health threatening...A survey of around 2,500 [Palestinian] households [in Lebanon] showed 63 percent were experiencing some food insecurity and 13 percent reported being severely in need of proper food.” “Every month Palestinians die from electrocution because water and electricity wires are connected. So many of the camps have no water drainage, no sewage covers. These living conditions are a health hazard,” Norman emphasized. “It’s very depressing that the situation for refugees has deteriorated,” Norman fumed. “It’s not acceptable how Palestinians have been treated here. There should be international pressure on both Israel and Lebanon not to forget these refugees. The Lebanese government won’t allow UNRWA to fix up these buildings.” “How many more generations of Palestinians, and now Syrians, can squeeze into these camps?” Alofs asked. We visited the Shatila Camp in West Beirut on Sept. 18, after a morning of stirring speeches, a ceremony at the Sabra and Shatila Massacre Martyr’s cemetery and a march down Sabra Street. Tenements, pockmarked with bullet holes, tower above bustling streets, with shoppers maneuvering to avoid garbage and puddles. Our group visited Beit Atfal Assamoud, (which translates to Home of the Steadfast Children) a Palestinian-run organization which is working tirelessly in all of Lebanon’s refugee camps. It provides preschools, “Family Happiness Projects,” vocational training, remedial classes, dental clinics, psychological assistance and cultural activities. The Beit Atfal Assamoud building in Shatila camp is surrounded by brightly painted murals on the outside walls, and the classrooms inside are a joyous oasis in the grim, overcrowded camp. Waffa Amine invited Siegel, Dana Seidenberg (a New Yorker who lives in NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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(L) Waffa Amine tells her story in her Shatila flat; Abu Yusuf (r), an out-of-work pharmacist, and three of his children in Borj El Shemali. Kenya), Dr. May Haddad and me to have coffee in her nearby flat. Amine was born in the Shatila camp to a family of 12, and she has lived in these same rooms all her life. She cooked coffee atop a burner on the balcony of her apartment. It used to be larger, Amine apologized, but the roof caved in in 1984. A key to her parents’ home in Jaffa hangs on the wall. The power went off as she told her story and she never even noticed. Amine raised three sons in these rooms: One is missing, her youngest is enduring a hunger strike in prison in Palestine, and the other lives here. Amine married a man who already had four kids, she told us. He vanished when their youngest was one, and is presumed dead. She’s raised seven kids, and now she’s helping Syrian refugees find rooms and settle in the camp. On Sept. 20 we visited the Qana Massacre cemetery in the south of Lebanon, near its border with Israel. In 1996, during “Operation Grapes of Wrath,” Israel Defense Forces shelled the U.N. compound in Qana, killing 106 Lebanese civilians who had taken shelter there. Next we stopped at the El Buss refugee camp near Tyre. The French government originally built the camp in 1939 for Armenian refugees. I strolled around this camp, which isn’t over-crowded and actually has trees, gardens, and improved water, sewage and storm water systems. I stopped to chat with young men fixing up a home, and a fellow who had just opened a coffee shop/pool room. There was no sign of animosity or distrust when I said I was American—this was in the midst of the NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

anti-Muslim film controversy—only smiles and offers of refreshment or a turn with the shovel mixing cement. I got lost and missed the bus, but managed to get to the next camp, Borj El Shemali, in time to explore some more. Siegel, Zeina Azzam, a Palestinian-American who works at Georgetown University, Seidenberg and I stopped to have a drink with Abu Yusuf, an out-of-work pharmacist who was born in this camp in 1956. Lebanese law prevents Palestinians from working in more than 20 professions, including medicine, engineering and pharmacies. Abu Yusuf’s family is from Huleh Valley, an agricultural region in northern Israel. The UAE government helped Abu Yusuf and his wife, a cleaner, fix up their tinroofed home—three rooms for a family of 11. Unlike many houses, it boasts a courtyard, with potted plants and shade, where two of their sons labored on homework. We all gathered in Beit Atfal Assamoud’s auditorium to hear a fabulous concert and watch exuberant dancers—the old men and women teaching lithe young students intricate Palestinian debka folk dances. A spokesman for the camp told the standingroom-only audience: “We have no time to talk. It’s time to work, build our society. The conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are getting worse. We live isolated from society, in big prisons. The future of the next generation is at risk here. We hope one day to go back to our homes in Palestine. We need your voices abroad and your belief in justice to support our activities inside the camps. In order not to forget our THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

history, the older people teach lessons to the new generation.” The last camp we visited, on Sept. 21, was Nahr El Bared in northern Lebanon, outside the city of Tripoli, near the Syrian border. A conflict in 2007 between the Lebanese Armed Forces and extremists groups who had entered the camps destroyed much of the camp and displaced 27,000 Palestinian refugees—many of whom found themselves homeless for the second or third time in their lives. While the older part of the camp still looks like a war zone, in a newer section homes are being rebuilt, emptying the savings of one retired UNRWA teacher I met, Salim Sabri Mousi, who runs a shop below his new apartment. Another retiree, Hussain Muhammad Farhad, 67, stopped me and pointed to a pile of rubble by the sea near the UNRWA school where he’d spent his working years. “That was my home. I need help to rebuild it,” he said. The U.S. government has donated $91.8 million since 2007 to help rebuild Nahr El Bared camp. Some families are still living in packing containers inside the camps, or renting apartments on the outside. On our last day in Lebanon, after buying embroidery for our bookstore from BAS, Siegel and I returned to Sabra refugee camp so she could introduce me to her “sister” Nazeeha, who lives on the 8th floor of the 10-story Gaza Hospital, now known as the Gaza building, and home to hundreds of refugees living in desperate conditions. As we climbed the pitch-black stairwells, I tried to ignore the litter, liqContinued on page 37 25


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Israel’s Apartheid Wall Threatens to Cut Through History SpecialReport

MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/GETTYIMAGES

By Jillian Kestler-D’Amours

Children swim in the ancient spring of the West Bank village of Battir, located between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, June 17, 2012. Eight village families take turns watering their crops from the natural spring. and the rest of the southern West Bank. “It’s not an issue of land only. It’s more in a U-shape at the base of the valley. Olive than that; there’s a cultural heritage that groves adorn the bottom of one steep hill. exists in the ground,” said 27-year-old HasFurther up the slope, pine trees and an Is- san Muammar, a civil engineer and Battir raeli army patrol road lead westward to- native who works at the Battir Landscape Eco-Museum. “The continuity of landward Jerusalem. On the adjacent hillside, a Roman-era ir- scape and the nature will be affected very rigation system feeds picturesque agricul- much by imposing the wall in this area.” Israel plans to build a section of its West tural terraces; olive trees, eggplant, peppers and other vegetables sit among the Bank separation wall through the lands of different levels, around a flowing spring. Battir. About 5,000 Palestinians currently Dozens of stone houses are tightly live in the village, which sits just south of squeezed onto the top of the hill, where a Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank. Over steep, winding road links this historical 75 percent of Battir is considered Area C, Palestinian village, Battir, to Bethlehem which under the Oslo accords agreement is under full Israeli military and civil control. According to village residents, the wall Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Jillian Kestler-D’Amours is an independent reporter would cut them off from one-third of their and documentary filmmaker based in Jeru - farmland, or approximately 3,000 dunams salem since May 2010. Copyright © 2012 (740 acres). They are currently fighting IsIPS-Inter Press Service. All rights reserved. rael’s plan to build the wall through their ating back to the late 1890s, the his-

Dtorical Jaffa-Jerusalem railroad winds

26

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

lands in an Israeli court, and are awaiting a decision. “This land is very important. It’s mainly olive groves and orchards, which people depend on as one of their resources for their life,” Muammar told IPS. In mid-September, the Israeli media reported that, for the first time, an Israeli state agency expressed opposition to the route of the separation wall. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) reportedly withdrew its support due to the damage the wall would cause to the landscape and local wildlife, and to Palestinian residents of Battir. “No matter how narrow the route of the fence, it will be a foreign engineering element in the heart of the agricultural terraces, and separate the village from its lands, among which are plots irrigated by spring water,” the INPA wrote in a letter to the Israeli Defense Ministry, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “It must be protected because the Battir area possesses all the criteria to be a World Heritage site. It has also an urgency because that heritage is under threat,” said Giovanni Fontana Antonelli, culture program specialist for the UNESCO office in Ramallah. Palestine was admitted to UNESCO, the U.N. cultural agency, in November 2011. The Church of the Nativity—a Bethlehem church where Christians believe Jesus was born—was the first place to be recognized as a Palestinian heritage site, earlier this year. According to Antonelli, the Palestinian Authority (PA) government in Ramallah is still deciding whether to submit Battir for consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The deadline to apply is Feb. 1 of next year. “The next three months are critical,” Antonelli told IPS. “The wall will have an irreversible impact [on Battir]. But it is possible to prevent this damage through negotiated action for the preservation of these heritage values. This landscape deserves more attention and has unexplored potential.” Israel began constructing the wall in NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


2002. Still under construction, it is expected to span over 700 kilometers (435 miles); 85 percent of its length will be built within the West Bank itself. According to the Palestinian human rights group AlHaq, when completed the wall will annex 530 square kilometers (205 square miles) of Palestinian land, equivalent to the area of Chicago, the United Statesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; third largest city. In 2004, the International Court of Justice found that the separation wall was illegal under international law and advised Israel to stop building it, to compensate Palestinians for damages, and dismantle its existing sections. This provides little comfort for the residents of Battir, however, who are anxiously waiting to see whether the wallâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; which would irreversibly alter their traditional agricultural practices and the historical landscapeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;will indeed be built through their village. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ten percent of people depend entirely on agriculture; the rest of the people take agriculture as part-time work. You find a

MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/GETTYIMAGES

kestler_26-27_November-December 2012 Template 10/10/12 6:03 PM Page 27

A woman works on her land in the ancient West Bank village of Battir, July 5, 2012. Villagersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; access to their land is threatened by Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plans to extend its apartheid wall through the village. lot of people, in the afternoon after they finish work, coming to cultivate the land,â&#x20AC;? said resident Hassan Muammar.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;The wall will be something imposed on the landscape. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s urgent. We have to think about the quality of life.â&#x20AC;? â?&#x2018;

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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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omer_28-29_Gaza on the Ground 10/11/12 1:55 PM Page 28

Rising Tuition Costs Threaten Future of a Generation of Palestinians Gazaon the Ground

PHOTO M. OMER

By Mohammed Omer

An increasing number of university students in Gaza can no longer afford to graduate due to rising tuition costs and widespread poverty caused by the Israeli siege. utside the office of the dean of stu-

Odent affairs at Islamic University in

Gaza, students sit on the floor, awaiting their turn. The wood-paneled hallway represents a kind of educational gauntlet, with the students trying to make headway through the financial obstacles facing them, not to mention the inevitable boredom of bureaucracy. Impatient and restless, they begin humming, then tapping their fingers. In time the rhythm escalates to chanting: “We want to register! We want to register!” Their hopes rest on the dean’s approval. And so they wait. Because the dean is busy in his office, the frustrated students meet with the deputy dean of student affairs, Dr. Ahmed Al Tourk. A student exits his office, head bowed, looking at the floor, his future uncertain. Next in line is Ola’a, a third year medical student considered one of the most promising future doctors in her class. She rises from the floor and takes a deep Award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer reports on the Gaza Strip, and maintains the Web site <www.rafahtoday.org>. He can be reached at <gazanews@yahoo.com>. Follow him on Twitter: @MoGaza. 28

breath before entering the deputy dean’s office. Ola’a quietly explains her dilemma: the university awarded her a partial scholarship for academic achievement which covers half her tuition—but she is unable to pay the rest. In order to receive class credit, a student must be registered. But it’s already four weeks into the academic year, and all of Ola’a’s attempts to register have been thwarted. The computer won’t accept her registration until she has settled the balance due on her tuition—900 Jordanian dinars, or roughly $1,272—and the credit column is cleared. But the 20-year-old medical student cannot even afford to buy her textbooks or arrange transportation to the university. Her father is unemployed and employment opportunities in Gaza are scarce. A reprieve from the dean is her last hope. Today Ola’a is lucky. Even though she has not settled her debt, Dr. Al Tourk allows her to register temporarily through the admission and registration office. University officials, too, are confronted with a dilemma. Should they allow students to register and thus enable them to continue their education, or should they uphold the university policy that all fees THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

must be paid in advance? Concerns about cash flow and being able to pay teachers’ salaries, purchase supplies and keep the school running also must be considered. Ultimately it comes down to a cruel choice: a school without students, or students without a school. According to Dr. Al Tourk, the inability of students to pay their tuition is “partially due to the Israeli-imposed siege, economic hardship and unemployment.” Each day he meets new students confronting increasing economic hardship, “which makes one’s heart ache” he says, as he answers non-stop phone calls and meets with students and their families seeking his help. Dr. Al Tourk admits the university does receive some financial support to defray tuition fees, but it’s never enough. “I am always happy when I hear a donor is coming to the university to help the students with the most needs,” he says. In 2011, 30 percent of Islamic University students applied for student loans and financial aid. This year, according to Dr. Al Tourk, 50 percent of the school’s students cannot afford the tuition. In many cases, some impoverished female students wear the same jilbab, or covering, for the entire academic year. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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The financial situation has driven some students to desperation. In September, 18year-old Ehab Abu Nada set himself on fire to protest the high academic fees and economic suffering in Gaza. He appears to have taken this extreme measure following an argument with his father, who urged the young man to find work to help feed his desperately poor family. But Ehab’s attempts to find work were in vain, so in despair he doused himself with petrol outside Gaza’s Shifa hospital and set himself on fire. All his father can say now is that his son left home to try and find work and never came back alive. The job market in Gaza and the West Bank can accommodate only 10 percent of the 40,000 students who graduate university each year. The remaining 90 percent find themselves unemployed. The high unemployment and lack of opportunity is a direct result of Israel’s continued military siege, strangling every aspect of Palestinian life. It’s not hard to imagine that when an entire generation faces a future that is bleak at best, the whole population suffers. While Gazans continue to celebrate the achievements of their graduating sons and

daughters, this year the celebrations have been curtailed. Hadeel Looz, for example, graduated in the top 5 percent of her high school class, so her future would appear to be bright. But she cannot afford the tuition to any university science program. The minimum cost of an engineering course is 40 dinars ($56) per accredited hour, with 175 required to complete the curriculum. Medical school costs 120 dinars ($169) per hour, with 260 hours required. These sums, moreover, do not include the cost of books, transportation and clothing. On Sept. 15, students of Al Quds Open University and Al Azhar University protested in Gaza City against the rising cost of library-study hours—doubling from 15 dinars to 30 dinars—and other fee increases. The protests coincided with more general demonstrations against the increased cost of living throughout the West Bank. One of the students protesting in Gaza said her mother had sold her wedding ring to buy the required textbooks for the coming semester. Dr. Al Tourk and his staff are trying to help, but they, too, realize that time is not on their side, nor on the side of the stu-

dents. The university is trapped between its principles and reality. Understandably, this explanation offers little satisfaction to students who are fed up, and who continue to protest about being unable to afford tuition and school fees. Their frustration is further exacerbated by their realization that education represents the only way to escape their confined existence. With 51 percent of Gaza’s population under the age of 18, the besieged enclave is home—or jail—to one of the world’s youngest populations. The cruel irony is that both Israeli and Palestinian cultures place a high premium on education. Both encourage their sons and daughters to aspire to the highest educational level, and both boast populations well above global averages in academic achievement and intelligence. One society is permitted to flourish, however, and that society sees to it that the other does not—never even bothering with the pretense of “separate but equal.” Tragically, the occupying power does not see that its own long-term interest lies in the educated minds of future generations—its own and those of its neighbors and fellow human beings. ❑

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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

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Israel’s “Separate and Unequal” Policies Toward its Palestinian Citizens SpecialReport

COURTESY GALILEE FOUNDATION

By Diana Safieh

Medical students learn about plant use in Arabic medicine. he struggles of the 1.5 million indige-

Tnous Palestinians in Israel may be less

familiar and more misunderstood than of those on the other side of the Green Line, in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinian citizens of Israel are, in theory, entitled to the services and rights offered by the state. Thus it is a common misconception that they enjoy equal access to healthcare and education. In reality, however, Israel’s Palestinian citizens of Israel face a complex and confusing system designed to disenfranchise and impoverish them. The Galilee Foundation was established in 2007 to bring attention to this issue, and to empower the Palestinian minority, primarily through its Scholarship Program. It focuses on long-term solutions to help the marginalized communities alleviate poverty, develop sustainable livelihoods, and participate more competitively in the labor force. Diana Safieh is managing director of The Galilee Foundation, a UK-based registered charity which focuses on long-term solutions to help the marginalized Palestinian communities in Israel alleviate poverty and develop sustainable livelihoods by facilitating access to education and empowerment opportunities. 30

When the State of Israel was established in 1948, 150,000 Palestinians (of the original 950,000 Palestinians) managed to remain within the borders of the new state and were given Israeli citizenship. Today there are 1.5 million indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel, almost 20 percent of the total population, making them a significantly sized ethnic minority. (By comparison, African Americans constitute 13 percent of the U.S. population.) At least 370,000 of these Israeli citizens are internally displaced, many having been so since before 1948. Furthermore, many have lived for generations in unrecognized villages, without any municipal services such as electricity, water, roads, basic education, welfare services or waste collection, and with the constant threat of home demolitions. Of the 40 towns with the highest levels of unemployment in Israel, 36 are Palestinian. Palestinians who do manage to gain employment find that their wages are just under 30 percent lower than those of Jewish Israelis. As a result of these factors, 61 percent of Palestinian families in Israel live below the poverty line. Palestinians in Israel are clearly living under a different, but equally disruptive, form of oppression. Less than 6.25 percent of the 2012 state THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

budget has been allocated to the 20 percent of Israeli citizens who are Palestinian. Even though 25 percent of all children in Israel are Palestinian, a mere $192 is spent per Palestinian child per year, compared to $1,100 on each Jewish Israeli child. This miasmic swamp of discriminatory laws and inhibiting budgetary apportionment means that Israel is able to control the delivery, quality and division of the basic human right of education. There are few elementary schools in the unrecognized Palestinian Bedouin villages in the south, for example, and not a single high school. Where Palestinian schools can be found, minimal state support means that they operate with larger class sizes and inferior facilities, inevitably producing poorer results. At the primary school level, there are 20 percent more students in Palestinian classrooms than in Jewish classrooms. The curriculum itself is also discriminatory, with textbooks and teachers frequently ignoring or misrepresenting Palestinian history and culture. Palestinians are three times less likely to go to university than Jewish Israelis. They make up just 11.2 percent of all bachelor students, only 6.1 percent of all master’s students, and only 3.5 percent of all Ph.D. students. In addition, Palestinian citizens of Israel are not generally obliged to perform national service, although this is yet again under review. However, many citizenship rights—such as grants, scholarships, university dorms, loans and other government-offered benefits that facilitate a higher education—are linked to military service. In order to be eligible for these rights, a Palestinian must join the very army used to enforce the occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel’s discriminatory education system denies its Palestinian population a cohesive structure for the conveyance of their language, history and culture. In other words, the transference of national identity is interrupted and dislocated. Already the effects of this are visible, as many Palestinian youths are more familiar with Israeli history and traditions than with their own, and more comfortable using Hebrew than Arabic. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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examining its graduates. To name a If what G.K. Chesterton said few, Hiba Q. studied medical laboabout education being the soul of In Their Own Words ratory sciences and now works in society as it passes from one generâ&#x20AC;&#x153;This has been a support for me and my family, inthe largest Arab-serving hospital in ation to another is true, then it cluding my four brothers and sister. You are supporting Nazareth. Basel studied medicine seems Israel has managed to erect a me both financially and personally, and I have gained a at the Hebrew University in cultural roadblock. The Zionist lot of knowledge and skills to be a better person and a Jerusalem and is now employed at hope is that, in the absence of a better contributor to my society here.â&#x20AC;? the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center. collective Palestinian identity, Shatha E., from Kufur Yasif, near Acre, a 4th year Heba A. studied sociology, anthrothose Palestinians who remain will medical student at Technion in Haifa pology and gender studies at Tel adopt the Israeli national identity Aviv University. She now works with less resistance, becoming a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Volunteering in my community as a recipient of the with Palestinian women and famimore malleable component within scholarship made me feel proud of being part of a lies who have faced discrimination, the Jewish state of Israel. community trying to enhance its opportunities in acadand also on raising awareness Leaving nothing to chance, howemia and life in general. I hope to be able to serve among youth on issues such as viever, the current Israeli government more as a clinical psychologist and a researcher in the future, where I might have more ability to help those olence, drugs, gender and identity. has introduced more than 30 new less fortunate in my community.â&#x20AC;? Other Galilee Foundation gradulaws directly or indirectly targeting Caesar H., from Haifa, a Ph.D. candidate in ates have found positions in their Palestinians in Israel, according to psychology at Haifa University municipal councils, assisting PalesAdalah, the Legal Center for Arab tinian Knesset members, or started Minority Rights in Israel. their own businesses. Galilee Foundation Scholarship The Galilee Foundation is proud of our recipients, all Arab citizens of Israel, attend tions, legal groups, human rights organizaworkshops on Palestinian culture, lan- tions, the arts and medical centers in order students, both during their studies and guage, identity, and the importance of cre- to explore the various means to build sup- after they graduate. Building a strong foundation of leadership in all sectors is an esating a strong civil society. Students are re- port for their communities. The true impact and success of the sential ingredient to a thriving ethnic miquired to undertake placements with media agencies, women and youth associa- Scholarship Program can be assessed by nority. â?&#x2018; (Advertisement)

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Senators Take Money From Friends of IDF, Vote Against Jobs Bill for American Veterans SpecialReport

By Laurence A. Toenjes ike other elected officials, U.S. senators

Lnever miss an opportunity to tell an

more pro-Israel PAC contributions than any other congressional candidate in 2010, was unable to be present to vote on the measure, as he is recovering from a major stroke. It’s fair to assume he would have voted against it, since, in addition to the $115,304 he received from pro-Israel PACs, he received $17,000 in 2010 campaign contributions from FIDF board members—far more than any other candidate, as the chart shows. In addition, at least two of the senators who voted against the jobs bill received free trips to Israel, paid for by another proIsrael “charity,” the American Israel Edu-

sons who also serve as AIPAC board members. Since AIPAC cannot use its own money and resources to pay for congressional trips to Israel, these in effect are laundered through AIEF, a so-called “educational” subsidiary. The executive director of Friends of IDF is retired Israeli Gen. Yitzhak Gershon. His salary and other benefits total $516,996— again, paid for with tax-deductible dollars. According to the Charity Navigator 2010 CEO Compensation Study, Gershon’s salary is at or above the very high end for administrators of charities of comparable size. As readers of this publication are aware,

American veteran, “Thank you for your service.” This past Sept. 19, American senators had an opportunity to put their money where their mouths are by supporting The Veterans Job Corps Act of 2012. The bill would have paid out $1 billion over five years in order to “lower unemployment among military veterans, giving grants to federal, state, and local agencies, which in turn would hire veterans—giving priority to those who served on or after 9/11—to work as first-responders and in conservation jobs at national parks.” The proposed legislation, 2010 Campaign Contributions to Republican Senators introduced by Sen. Bill NelVoting Against the Veterans Jobs Bill son (D-FL), would seem to be a no-brainer. And indeed, From IDF Board Members From Pro-Israel PACs Total most senators—58, including 5 Republicans—voted to Ayotte, Kelly A. (NH) $3,000 $14,500 $17,500 consider it. But 40 RepubliBlunt, Roy (MO) 2,000 32,500 34,500 can senators voted not to Coats, Daniel R. (IN) 2,400 24,960 27,360 consider the bill, thereby Hoeven, John (ND) 2,400 34,500 36,900 killing it, on a point of order Johnson, Ron (WI) 2,400 5,000 7,400 raised by Sen. Jeff Sessions Lee, Mike (UT) 1,500 21,600 23,100 (R-AL). Portman, Rob (OH) 4,800 16,500 21,300 So do these 40 U.S. senaRubio, Marco (FL) 500 5,100 5,600 tors oppose supporting veterToomey, Pat (PA) 1,000 29,500 30,500 ans? Apparently, for some, it depends on which countries TOTAL $20,000 $184,160 $204,160 the veterans served, and how SOURCE: CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS (<WWW.OPENSECRETS.ORG>) that generates campaign contributions. Nine of the Republican senators who cation Foundation (AIEF), the tax-exempt the Washington Report has for decades voted against the Veterans Job Corps Act arm of the American Israel Public Affairs been tracking pro-Israel PAC contributions to federal candidates. The above chart also had received campaign contributions from Committee (AIPAC). Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), elected for shows how much the senators who voted board members of a U.S. tax-exempt organization called Friends of Israel Defense Forces the first time in November 2010, wasted no against the jobs bill for American veterans (FIDF). Each year FIDF raises some $50 mil- time in embarking on his free jaunt to Is- received from pro-Israel PACs during the lion in tax-exempt funds for the benefit of rael upon taking office the following Jan- same election cycle (2010) in which they uary. The total cost of Senator Hoeven’s received contributions from FIDF board veterans—Israeli veterans, that is. members. The chart above lists those Republican trip was $24,536.28. But even that’s not the whole story. The Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) also accepted senators who voted against the jobs bill for U.S. veterans and who received campaign a free trip to Israel, courtesy of AIEF, dur- same FIDF board members who made contributions to these nine Republican senaing May and June 2011. contributions from FIDF board members: As Grant Smith, director of the Institute tors also made many other political contriSen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), who received for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, has butions to federal candidates and organiLaurence A.Toenjes, who received his doc- documented (see <http://irmep.org/0909 zations. The amounts these individuals torate in economics from Southern Illinois 2011AIEF.pdf>), AIEF employees are really contributed to the nine senators, as well as University, is retired from the University of employees of AIPAC. Their salaries are paid the $17,000 given to Senator Kirk, are Houston’s Department of Sociology, where he for by AIPAC, and the two organizations shown in the table on the facing page, was a researcher with The Sociology of Edu- share the same address. AIEF’s board of di- along with the amounts they contributed rectors, moreover, is dominated by 27 per- to all candidates, and to political organizacation Research Group. 32

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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tions required to report Contributions by FIDF Board Members the contributions. The numbers in parentheses To Senators Voting Against To All Candidates and Organizations represent the contribuJobs for Vets Required to Report (w/immediate family members) tions of the board members and their immediate Heiman, Gary $ 5,300 $58,000 ($92,000) family members. Hochberg, Larry 5,300 33,487 ( 47,687) These contribution toSchneider, Mark 4,800 4,800 ( 9,600) tals are impressive. While Shillman, Robert 14,600 71,950 ( 84,150) some of the board memSimms, Ron 1,000 6,200 ( 6,700) bers gave much more than Zweig, Arie 5,000 6,500 ( 11,300) others, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be deceived. For example, Mr. and Mrs. TOTALS $36,000 $180,937 ($251,437) Ron Simms and their family members may have made only $6,700 in American veteransâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;also pledged half a funded aid. Settlements will keep expolitical contributions in 2009-2010, but million dollars for the benefit of veterans panding. But American vets will not benefit from the jobs programs those nine they opened up when it came to Israeli of a foreign country. Not to be outdone, the Shillmans, senators helped scuttle. That is one heck vets. The following report on a Western region fund-raiser appeared on the FIDF through their Shillman Foundation, con- of a way to say, â&#x20AC;&#x153;We thank you for your Web siteâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;along with the slogan, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Their tributed $1,940,343 to FIDF from 2003 to service!â&#x20AC;? A final comment: As noted, the vote job is to look after Israel. Ours is to look 2010, the last year for which records are available. During the same period, the killing the veteransâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; jobs bill was on a point after them.â&#x20AC;? So Mr. and Mrs. Simmsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the same cou- Shillman Foundation also contributed of order raised by Senator Sessions, who ple who contributed money to U.S. sena- $375,000 to the AIEF, which provides the claimed that the cost of the bill was not tors who then voted against a jobs bill for free trips to Israel for congressmen and funded and would have increased the federal deficit. An obvious way to reduce that their staff members. These pieces do fit togetherâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;there is a deficit would be to increase slightly the tax Western Region Gala Raises purpose to this puzzle. That is to support rates on individuals who can afford to $5.2 Million to Benefit Soldiers the agenda and interests of Israel, includ- make political contributions of $58,000 in ing its militaryâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and in some cases the in- one year, or who make â&#x20AC;&#x153;charitableâ&#x20AC;? contriOn Thursday, December 17th, terests of those who profit from defense butions of half a million dollars for the benmore than 1,100 people filled the spending. For example, FIDF board mem- efit of veterans of a foreign country. AlterInternational Ballroom of The Bevber Gary Heiman is president and CEO of natively, the IRS could revoke the tax-exerly Hilton hotel to honor Israel's Standard Textile Co., Inc., which has sub- empt status of the FIDF and a raft of other brave soldiers. The annual LA Gala, pro-Israel nonprofits of questionable charisidiaries in Israel. which was once again chaired by Cheryl & Haim Saban, was comQuoting from the Jerusalem Post, Zoom table purpose. pletely sold out by the first of DeOr, if they were really serious about proinfo.com reported: â&#x20AC;&#x153;According to Heiman, cember and set a new record raishis plants in Israel already supply a large tecting the interests of their constituents ing $5.2 million in support of a variportion of the uniforms to the military, as and fellow citizens, members of Congress ety of programs that ease the burwell as providing garments for other could decide to finally put an end to the $3 den and further the wellbeing of Isarmies around the world. He said that $30 billion-plus in Americansâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; tax dollarsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; raelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s soldiers. million dollarsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; worth of uniforms were more than three times the funding needed Jason Alexander served as Masproduced here [in Israel], with 95 percent for the veterans jobs billâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;it votes to give ter of Ceremonies for the eventâ&#x20AC;Ś Israel every year. â?&#x2018; being exported to Europe and the U.S.â&#x20AC;? In announcing that the Gala had (Advertisement) The subsidiaries also reportedly supply raised $1.6 million, Gala Chair Haim Saban stated that he and his wife, towels to the Israeli prison system! Cheryl, would be matching that Make no mistake. When individuals total â&#x20AC;&#x153;dollar for dollar.â&#x20AC;? That genermake political contributions in the tens of ous announcement followed Westthousands of dollars, they expectâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and ern Region President Paul Guerinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s getâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;something in return. announcement of a $1 million The bottom line is that 40 U.S. senators pledge by he and his wife. Two addiscuttled a jobs bill for American veterans. tional $500,000 pledges were made Nine of these senatorsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;nearly 25 per4HERESALOTMOREYOUMIGHT by Victoria & Ron Simms and Erika centâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;received campaign contributions NOTKNOWABOUTYOUR Glazer. from members of the board of directors of MUSLIMNEIGHBORS [EDITORâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S NOTE: Jason Alexander, nĂŠ Jason Friends of Israel Defense Forces, which 6JG/WUNKO.KPMVJGNCTIGUVPGYURCRGTHQTCPFCDQWV Greenspan, played George Costanza in VJG/WUNKO%QOOWPKV[KP&%/&CPF8##XCKNCDNGCV raises some $50 million annually in taxthe TV seriesâ&#x20AC;&#x153;Seinfeld.â&#x20AC;? Haim Saban is OQUV/QUSWGU#TCD+PFQ2CMCPF2GTUKCPTGUVCWTCPVUCPF the Israeli-American media mogul who exempt contributionsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;in other words, ITQEGTKGUKPVJGITGCVGT9CUJKPIVQP$CNVKOQTG endowed the Brookings Institutionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s partially offset by U.S. taxpayersâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;to OGVTQRQNKVCPCTGC#XCKNCDNG(TGG Saban Center for Middle East Policy and benefit Israeli veterans. The Israeli vets who told The New York Times, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a one0HONE  &AX   issue guy and my issue is Israel.â&#x20AC;?] will get their benefits. Israel will get its WWW-USLIMLINKPAPERCOM $3 billion-plus in annual U.S. taxpayer-

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Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Blatantly Tries to Influence the U.S. Elections CongressWatch

By Shirl McArthur n early September, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu launched what Iappeared to be a conscious effort to influence the U.S. elections by accusing the Obama administration of failing to strongly counter Iran’s supposed nuclear threat. First, on Sept. 2, he said the U.S. and the international community must set firm “red lines” regarding Iran’s nuclear program, even though Israel itself had set no red lines. Two days later, in an apparently coordinated move, Rep. Mike Rogers (RMI) reported a strong exchange between Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro during a late August meeting attended by Rogers. (Shapiro later dismissed Rogers’ report as “a very silly story.”) Rogers claimed that Netanyahu said he was “at wits end” over the lack of U.S. “clarity on Iran’s nuclear program,” and he repeated Netanyahu’s demand for the U.S. to draw “red lines.” Then, on Sept. 11, after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejected Netanyahu’s demand by saying “it’s not useful to be setting deadlines one way or the other, red lines,” and after the White House said that President Barack Obama would not be meeting with Netanyahu after the U.N. General Assembly meeting in late September, the Israeli leader upped the ante. Speaking at a press conference, Netanyahu said that “those in the international community who refuse to place red lines before Iran have no moral right to place a red line before Israel.” This was too much even for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who is Jewish and a strong supporter of Israel. On Sept. 12 she wrote to Netanyahu expressing her “deep disappointment over your remarks that call into question our country’s support for Israel” and saying she was “stunned by the remarks that you made this week regarding U.S. support for Israel.” In a Jerusalem Post interview published Sept. 16, Netanyahu feigned innocence, denying numerous allegations that he was manufacturing a crisis with the Obama administration to influence the U.S. elections. He called the charges “completely groundless.” But, in a clear validation of those allegations, on Sept. 16 he brought the disShirl McArthur, a retired U.S. foreign service officer, is a consultant based in the Washington, DC area. 34

pute to a wider audience in the U.S. by appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and on CNN’s “State of the Union” to again say that the U.S. must “draw a distinct red line” on Iran’s nuclear program.

Mixed Congressional Reactions to Protests over Anti-Islam Film Following the release of the virulently antiMuslim trailer for the film “The Innocence of Muslims,” which blasphemes the Prophet Mohammed, waves of protest swept the Muslim world in September, including attacks on several U.S. diplomatic missions, beginning with a Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. The worst attack occurred that same day, when a group of well-armed Salafists, in an operation that may or may not have been pre-planned, assaulted the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, resulting in the deaths of four Americans. Congressional reactions to the attacks were quick, but mixed. Several Republicans—notably including Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC), James Inhofe (R-OK) and Jon Kyl (RAZ), and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Allen West (R-FL)—followed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s lead by claiming that the events were somehow the result of President Obama’s foreign policy. Notorious Islamophobe Rep. Peter King (R-NY) agreed with Romney but criticized the timing of his statement. Reps. Mo Brooks (R-AL) and Dan Burton (R-IN) called for cutting aid to Egypt and Libya. However, statements by many members of Congress were more responsible. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) both issued statements saying that it was a moment for patriotism, not politics. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Joe Lieberman (ICT) and John McCain (R-AZ) issued a joint statement urging their colleagues not to overreact, and saying, “We cannot give in to the temptation to believe that our support for the democratic aspirations of people in Libya, Egypt, and elsewhere in the broader Middle East is naïve or mistaken.” Even the statement issued by vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said only that “this is a time for healing. It’s a time for resolve.” Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) condemned the attacks, adding that “this is not the time to throw political punches.” THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Legislatively, on Sept. 21 Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), with 15 Republican co-sponsors, introduced H.R. 6511 “to require investigations into and a report on” the attacks.

Aid to Egypt, Libya Threatened On Sept. 13 resolutions were introduced in the House and Senate suspending aid to Egypt and Libya. S.Res. 556, introduced by Inhofe with one co-sponsor, would suspend aid to Tripoli and Cairo “until the President certifies to Congress that both governments are providing proper security at U.S. embassies and consulates.” H.Res. 783, introduced by Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) with two co-sponsors, would suspend aid “until the Governments of Libya and Egypt formally apologize to the U.S. and condemn in the strongest terms” the attacks. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) proposed an amendment to the veterans’ jobs bill (S. 3457), killed by Senate Republicans (see article p. 32), that would prohibit aid to Libya and Egypt. When that effort failed, on Sept. 19 he introduced S. 3576 that would cut aid to Egypt and Libya, as well as Pakistan. Paul threatened to hold up passage of the “continuing resolution” (CR), H.J.Res. 117 (continuing all appropriations for FY ’13 at the FY ’12 level until March 30, 2013), until getting a vote on his bill. As part of the deal to pass the CR, Paul got his vote on Sept. 21, and S. 3576 failed by a vote of 10-81. But the Obama administration is pressing for more aid, especially for Egypt, although The Washington Post reported that talks to proceed with funds already approved are temporarily on hold. Previously Obama had proposed that $1 billion of Egypt’s $3 billion debt to the U.S. be forgiven, to be covered by previously appropriated funds. Upon his return from visiting Egypt prior to the protests, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)—who, depending on the election results, likely will be either the chairman or the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee— strongly supported the debt relief, saying, “It’s in our national security interest for the Egyptian economy to improve.” After the attack on the embassy in Cairo, however, Corker said he still believes that enNOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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gagement is the best policy in Egypt, but expressed disappointment at Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s initial reaction to the attack. Aid to Tunisia was not threatened. Earlier, in late July, a bipartisan group of five senators led by Lieberman wrote to Obama commending the administration’s actions in redirecting aid to Tunisia, saying that “much more can and must be done.” Also, on June 29, Rep. David Dreier (R-CA), with two cosponsors, introduced H.Res. 719 urging that the U.S. “initiate negotiations to enter into a free-trade agreement with Tunisia.”

Iran, Israel, Syria Get Some Congressional Attention As reported in the Washington Report’s previous issue, on Aug. 1 Congress passed an amended version of H.R. 1905, the farreaching and harsh Iran sanctions bill introduced by leading Israel-firster RosLehtinen in May of last year. Obama signed it on Aug. 10, as P.L. 112-158. Also, on Sept. 19 the House passed, under “suspension of the rules,” H.R. 3783, the “Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere” bill introduced by Duncan in January, which would direct the secretary of state to submit “a strategy to address Iran’s growing presence and hostile activity in the Western Hemisphere.” When passed it had 88 co-sponsors, including Duncan. As also previously reported, Graham has been trying for some time to get the Senate to pass his S.J.Res. 41. If passed by the House as well, it would say, among other things, that Congress “strongly supports U.S. policy to prevent [Iran] from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability,” and that it “joins the President in ruling out any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.” The resolution’s final clause says that “nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization for the use of force or a declaration of war.” Graham also held up passage of the CR to force a vote on his measure, and as part of the deal to pass the CR, he got his vote on Sept. 21. S.J.Res. 41 was passed by a vote of 90-1, with only Paul voting no. When passed it had 84 co-sponsors, including Graham. Of the other previously reported anti-Iran measures, only H.R. 4228, introduced in March by McCaul, “to direct the Secretary of State to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force as a foreign terrorist organization,” has gained co-sponsors. It now has 24, including McCaul. Positively, H.R. 4173, introduced in March by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), which would urge that the U.S. pursue all diplomatic avenues to avoid a war with Iran, has NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

gained two co-sponsors and now has 34, including Lee. On Aug. 14 Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) wrote to Obama urging that Tanzania and the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu be penalized for re-flagging Iranian tankers. The same day Rep. Howard “Even-before-I-was-a-Democrat-Iwas-a-Zionist” Berman (D-CA) wrote a similar letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Prior to leaving for another electioneering break, Congress finally passed the CR early on Sept. 22, continuing all appropriations for FY ’13 at the FY ’12 level until March 30, 2013. Before then Congress will probably roll the remaining appropriations bills into a large “omnibus” bill, but H.R. 5856, the defense appropriations bill, may get passed separately, and the Housepassed version includes $948,736,000 for the so-called “Israeli Cooperative Programs.” Whether the defense appropriations bill gets passed separately or is included in the omnibus, however, this allocation for Israel is likely to stand. The only other previously described proIsrael measures that have made some progress include H.Res. 630, introduced April 24 by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). Its sole “resolved” clause says the House “fully supports Israel’s lawful exercise of self-defense up to and including action to stop Iranian aggression, including a strike against Iran’s illegal nuclear program.” It has gained six co-sponsors and now has 24, including Gosar. Also, the problematic H.R. 5850, introduced in May by Rep. Brad Sherman (DCA)—who is running against his fellow Israel-firster Berman for a redistricted congressional seat—has gained one co-sponsor and now has 35, including Sherman. It would provide for the inclusion of Israel in the visa waiver program, which Israel has not qualified for because the number of Israelis coming to the U.S. on tourist visas and staying on illegally already is too high. Regarding events in Syria, several senators continue to look for more aggressive U.S. actions in support of the rebels. In an Aug. 30 op-ed piece in USA Today, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) wrote that “the U.S. should redouble its efforts to assemble a coalition of allies to diversify and strengthen conditionsbased aid to rebel groups.” After visiting refugee camps along the Turkish-Syrian border during the August recess, Corker, who has been against military intervention, said that arming the Free Syrian Army “may end up being the right course of action.” Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) on Sept. 11 said he is “looking at ways in which we can be more proactive without helping create a situation which would not be particularly healthy for THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Syria or the region.” Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) remains opposed to arming the rebels, but on Sept. 11 pointed out that there are ways to help, “even when you don’t have consensus or agreement on the question of lethal aid or nonlethal aid.” One such way is S. 3498, introduced by Casey in August, “to provide humanitarian assistance and support a democratic transition in Syria.” It has gained three co-sponsors, and now has four including Casey. Of the previously described measures, H.R. 5993, introduced in June by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) to prohibit the use of funds to support “directly or indirectly, military or para-military operations in Syria,” now has three co-sponsors, including Paul.

Aid to Pakistan Continues Under Fire Senator Paul continues to threaten aid to Pakistan over the jailing of Dr. Shakil Afridi, who played a part in the capture of Osama bin Laden, by first introducing an amendment to the failed veterans’ jobs bill to withhold aid to Pakistan until Afridi is released, then by including the same provision in his H.R. 3576 described above. Of his previously reported bills to withhold aid, only S. 3269 has gained a co-sponsor; it now has nine, including Paul. The defense appropriations bill referred to above also included an amendment offered by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) to cut $650 million in aid to Pakistan. On Sept. 13 Poe tried a different approach by introducing H.R. 6391, “to terminate the designation of Pakistan as a major non-NATO ally.” ❑ (Advertisement)

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Only a Muslim Brotherhood President Can Speak to America and About Religion CairoCommuniqué

UN PHOTO/MARCO CASTRO

By Joseph Mayton

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi addresses the U.N. General Assembly, Sept. 26, 2012. n Sept. 11, a group of angry Egyptian

Oprotesters were chanting in front of

the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. The previous few weeks had seen a reduction in security personnel along the usually well-guarded streets leading to the embassy. Nor had the lax security been amped up, despite the growing anger over an anti-Islam film being shown on an ultra-conservative Salafist channel that defamed Islam and Prophet Muhammad. As a result, a group of protesters was able to scale the embassy’s walls that night, pull down the American flag, then burn it in front of the embassy as a symbolic act. More surprising, however, was the protesters’ demand that President Mohamed Morsi speak out for “Egyptian and Muslim dignity.” It would have been virtually unheard of for earlier protesters to have called on former dictator Hosni Mubarak to speak on their behalf. Despite the turmoil and tension that the deliberately provocative film has caused in the Islamic world and its relationship with the United States, in many ways the events that unfolded, Joseph Mayton is a free-lance journalist based in Cairo, where he administers the Web site <http://bikyamasr.com>. 36

and are still playing out, in Egypt have given Morsi a boost and support that only a democratically elected leader could elicit. Mohamed Osman, a young carpenter who was at the Sept. 11 protest, was clear about where his loyalties lay: “I hope Morsi can deliver the message that the U.S. cannot tell us what to do any longer. We have elected our president and he is going to do what is best for us. This is Egypt.” He was adamant that Egypt was a new country, forging ahead on its own priorities and policies, some of which may not be to Washington’s liking. But Egyptians like Osman are responding with pride and hope. A September poll conducted by the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research (Baseera) found that 79 percent of the country was pleased with the job Morsi is doing—an increase of nearly 30 points from a similar survey conducted the previous month. As far as Egyptians are concerned, Morsi is on the right track. As a former leader of the longstanding, well organized—and, until recently, banned—Muslim Brotherhood, which now includes a political party, President Morsi has been able to bridge the divide between religious communities in Egypt and abroad. On his recent trip to New York THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, he demonstrated that he will not sit idly by and allow foreign powers to dictate Egypt’s future. During a Sept. 24 meeting with Islamic, Christian and Jewish organizations in New York, Morsi called on religious groups to accept the “other.” While the meeting received little official media coverage here in Egypt, both Christians and Muslims agreed that it was the right move to show Egypt is not a country based on sectarian divides—and this at a time when American Coptic Christians were said to be involved with the “Innocence of Muslims” film. “I appreciate this meeting because it does show that he [Morsi] will be willing to hear and listen to our demands as Christians,” said Shereen Fahim, a 20-year-old university student. When Morsi came to power, Fahim said, she was worried about the role of Christians in the future of Egyptian society. Her concerns were heightened when he appointed only two Christians among his top advisers. “We were all very worried about how he was to deal with Christians, and at first we were frustrated,” Fahim explained, “but now we see that he is moving slowly, and this is a good thing, because we have to understand that everything doesn’t come at once. As long as he listens and acts based on our wants, I think this will be okay. Mubarak never really had any dialogue with groups and people.” Therein lies the difference: Morsi has stands apart from his predecessor in not shying away in the face of controversy. He stands up for what Egyptians believe. During his speech at the United Nations, the Egyptian president called for religious tolerance and a Palestinian state. In an interview with The New York Times prior to his American debut, Morsi was adamant that Egypt no longer would be buttressed by American demands. While American officials have urged Egypt to continue to maintain its treaty with Israel, he said, Washington must end its double standard with Israel and commit itself to Palestinian self-rule, as established in the 1979 treaty. Following the protests across the Islamic world, Morsi called on Washington to be NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


mayton_36-37_Cairo Communique 11/2/12 12:49 PM Page 37

respectful of the region’s history and culture, even if it differs from Western values. He also rejected U.S. criticism that he did not condemn the Sept. 11 Cairo protesters. In order to avoid an explosive backlash, he said, “we took our time” in responding, but then dealt “decisively” with the small, violent element among the demonstrators. “We can never condone this kind of violence, but we need to deal with the situation wisely,” Morsi added, noting that the U.S. Embassy employees were never in danger. Washington cannot dictate Egyptian policy, Morsi stated, and must work to be a partner, not an overlord, if it wants to maintain the relationship with Cairo. “If you want to judge the performance of the Egyptian people by the standards of German or Chinese or American culture, then there is no room for judgment,” he said. “When the Egyptians decide something, probably it is not appropriate for the U.S.,” Morsi added. “When the Americans decide something, this, of course, is not appropriate for Egypt.” Some American commentators undoubtedly interpreted this as a veiled threat to U.S. interests in Egypt and the Middle East, but, most importantly for Morsi, his speech earned him credibility and support among those who matter most to him: the Egyptian electorate that voted him into power. “I think we all forget how controlling America was of Mubarak and the past regime, but with Morsi we finally have a president who cares for Egypt first, not money or winning over Obama,” said Fahmy Gamal, a 28-year-old economist at a major international think-tank in Cairo. For him, Egypt’s future is in solid hands. While Egyptian Christians remain concerned, they echo Fahim’s assertion that Morsi is moving in the right directions. Given the turmoil caused by the anti-Islam film, Morsi’s success in ending the resulting tension could be his biggest victory to date. With a constitution to be finalized in October, Christians remain optimistic that their future, too, is solid with the so-called “Islamist president.” After the new administration’s first 100 days, many Egyptians are discovering that democracy is not fool-proof. But with a president willing to address key issues at home and abroad, most Egyptians believe it’s a job well done—so far, at least. Like Richard Nixon before him, Morsi has been able to restart relations with a major power while not alienating his domestic base. Only a Brotherhood president could go to the U.S., could be the new motto. ❑ NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

A Modest Proposal… Continued from page 22

amendments known as the “Bill of Rights” are taken into account. The First Amendment would be indigestible. The status of Judaism as a religion and of Jews as a nationality are intertwined, and under state law Jews are privileged compared to non-Jews. The Law of Return gives the right to Jews to migrate freely to Israel, but no such right is accorded to Muslim and Christian Palestinians who lived there before 1948 or whose ancestors did. The Jewish National Fund prohibited non-Jews from acquiring or renting land that it had acquired, and after 1948 the Israel Lands Authority committed itself to observe the JNF’s terms. Palestinian citizens’ freedom of speech is curtailed: as already mentioned, the 1984 amendment covering Knesset elections bans electoral lists that advocate that Israel should not be identified as the state of the Jewish people. The Second Amendment, referring to “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” would be unacceptable, as Israel would not trust its Palestinian minority with weapons. The Fourth Amendment aims to protect citizens, their homes and effects against “unreasonable searches and seizures”; the Fifth Amendment prohibits private property from being taken for public use without just compensation. Most of the land belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel in 1948 has been seized on a variety of pretexts in the ensuing decades, in many cases transforming farming communities into communities dependent on going out to work for others. There was no “just compensation.” The Fifth Amendment also prohibits a person from being deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, but administrative detention, arrest without trial and the closure of various areas, including lands that Israel intended to seize, were repeatedly used against Palestinian citizens of Israel up to 1966, when the military government under which they—but not Jewish Israelis—lived was abolished. The power of administrative detention still exists and the readiness of the state to resort to repression against its Muslim and Christian citizens—such as when security forces shot dead 13 unarmed protesters and arrested hundreds when they demonstrated in solidarity with the second intifada in October 2000—shows disrespect for their right to life and liberty. Thus, despite the professed commitment to shared values that Israel’s U.S. supportTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

ers endlessly proclaim, the constitutional differences between the two countries testify to a marked difference in reality. ❑

Sabra and Shatila… Continued from page 25

uids and smells. We passed a doorway and saw a young boy frying his supper on a tiny portable cooker, working by the light of a candle. Men were crouched in a hallway, smoking in silence. At last we reached the 8th floor, part of which looks out on the camp, where Ellen said she watched Israeli flares light up the skies during the massacre. She hugged her “Palestinian sister,” whom she first met in 1980, who proudly showed us her latest needlework projects. Nazeeha’s daughter, Rasha, is attending a private high school her family can ill afford, because the UNRWA school is overcrowded, understaffed and underfunded, making learning difficult. On the long flight home to DC, Siegel assured me that many Israelis and American Jews care deeply about Palestinian refugees. But activists tend to forget the plight of refugees in Lebanon, she observed, and focus instead on programs for Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. She said she hopes peace activists will put pressure on the U.S. and Lebanese governments and on UNRWA to improve conditions in the Lebanese camps. Saying it’s time to re-open the case of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, Siegel urged the formation of an international commission to re-assess both the Israeli and U.S. roles. Siegel suggested readers support Beit Atfal Assamoud, which is working to make refugees self-sufficient as they improve their lives. (American Near East Refugee Aid [ANERA] provides funding to BAS.) Buy embroidery—from our middleeastbooks.com, Folk Art Mavens and other organizations—made by Palestinian refugees who are earning money to support their families and perpetuate the craft. Like Americans, camp residents, taxi drivers and nearly every Lebanese we spoke with on the trip said they were worried about the economy. Any day now, they warned, problems could explode in the camps or elsewhere in Lebanon. Americans and Israelis have a debt to repay to the people of Sabra and Shatila, whom they promised—and failed—to protect. Palestinian refugees have waited far too long for their right to return to their homeland. The next president of the United States would be well advised to put peace and the issue of justice for Palestinian refugees at the top of his agenda. ❑ 37


stimson-architecture_38-39_November-December 2012 Template 10/10/12 12:16 PM Page 38

Domes, Arches and Minarets: Islamic Architecture in America SpecialReport

By Andrew Stimson

and mausoleums that show up in unexpected places. He profiles sophisticated American re-creations, including the friezes and majestic minarets. The wideFarmers and Exchange Bank (1853spread influence of Islamic architecture 1854) in Charleston, South Carolina, reflects the expanse of Islam far beyond strongly influenced by Moorish its birthplace. However, it is a style less mosques and featuring muquarnas, or often associated with architecture in the honeycombed vaulting, in its upper New World. Domes, Arches and window arches (p. 38). Pasquini’s keen Minarets reveals the impact of Islamic eye uncovers the exquisite terracotta aesthetic traditions that often go unnoarabesques that grace the façade of ticed in America. With insightful analyManhattan’s Decker Building (1892sis and beautiful full-page photographs, 1893) (p. 78) and the surprising Moorauthor and Washington Report staff Domes, Arches and Minarets ish inspiration of San Francisco’s Ferry photographer Phil Pasquini has exBy Phil Pasquini, Flypaper Press, 2012, Building, with a clock tower modeled pertly cataloged some of the most impaperback, 253 pp. List: $45; AET: $32. after a minaret designed by Ahmad Ibn portant Islamic-influenced architecture Baso and Abd Allah Ibn Amr in 1196 created by non-Muslims in the United Pasquini details the rise of “the Ameri- (p. 82). Other striking examples include States. While Islamic architecture was first in- can architectural Orientalism,” a set of the Chapel of Thanksgiving (1976) in Daltroduced to the New World through the styles that catered to American tastes for las, Texas (p. 230), the Almas Shrine TemSpanish missions with their Moorish flour- the exotic. This hybridization had the un- ple (1929) in Washington, DC (p. 186), and ishes, it seems particularly American that fortunate effect of reinforcing stereotypes the very strange case of Opa-Locka, one of the most prominent introductions of rather than presenting the authentic exhi- Florida, once called the Baghdad of Dade the style in the U.S. was P.T. Barnum’s os- bition of Islamic design. The author’s com- County. The book’s final chapter, on Islamic-intentatious mansion, The Iranistan (1848). mentary, however, is not two-dimensional. fluenced architecture in the 21st century, offers a somber narrative on the unfortunate disassociation with all things Islamic. The most significant development since 2001 is the collection of 13 villages built on the Fort Irwin training base in the remote California desert. Here, the military contracted a movie prop company to construct realistic “Arab villages,” complete with native Iraqi and Afghan actors to play (L-r) The Alhambra Theater in Sacramento (p. 150) and the Marin County, California Civic Center the part of civilians and insurgents, in an attempt to add authenticity to (p. 221). the troop exercises. Pasquini reA faithful copy of the Royal Pavilion at Pasquini argues that these pastiches intro- flects on the unfortunate fact that recent Brighton, England (1852-1904), Barnum’s duced a large audience to foreign designs, history has shrouded the long tradition of structure exhibited a style dubbed “Orien- in a sense whetting the American palette, friendship and cultural inspiration between tal fantasy”—a mishmash of Mughal, and ultimately paving the way for more so- Americans and Muslims. As his survey Moorish, Turkish and Byzantine themes. phisticated designs. Architects like Timo- makes clear, Americans have inherited a Fortunately or unfortunately, the building thy Pflueger and even Frank Lloyd Wright wealth of design inspired by Islamic archilasted less than 10 years, destroyed in a fire impressively melded Islamic themes with tecture. It is all the more unfortunate, then, after Barnum had abandoned the property. contemporary Art Deco, Art Nouveau and that this last decade’s main contribution is It did, however, leave a lasting legacy in Modern Movement styles, creating land- associated with hostility and war. Domes, Arches, and Minarets is a valuthe American interpretation of Islamic ar- mark structures celebrated to this day. Pasquini does a wonderful job high- able vanguard title covering a subject that chitectural styles. lighting structures that brought a more au- has produced astonishingly few books. Andrew Stimson is director of the AET Book thentic Islamic style to the U.S., such as the Pasquini’s four essay chapters are exnumerous Shriners temples, synagogues tremely well written, without the architecClub. t is a style recognizable from Spain to

IIndia: horseshoe arches, epigraphic

38

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


stimson-architecture_38-39_November-December 2012 Template 10/10/12 12:16 PM Page 39

tural jargon that often makes texts on architecture inaccessible to non-academics. His photographs survey a variety of structures from the grandiose to the mundane, revealing the depth to which these styles have been suffused into our architectural landscape. The only element missing from the book is an index, the absence of which NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

makes it hard to locate photographs and descriptions that this reader found inspiring. Despite this, Pasquiniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s book will leave

readers looking up to spot the elements of Islamic architecture that are part of our American cultural heritage. â?&#x2018;

CLOCKWISE FROM UPPER LEFT: The Decker Building in New York City (p. 79); the Almas Shrine Temple in Washington, DC (p. 187); Farmers and Exchange Bank, Charleston, SC (p. 38); simulated Iraqi and Afghani villages at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA (pp. 240 and 26); San Francisco Ferry Building Clock tower (p. 83). THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

39


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Syrian, Palestinian Refugees Flee Hostilities In Syria for Uncertainty in Lebanon SpecialReport

AFP/GETTYIMAGES

By Samaa Abu Sharar

Syrian refugee children stand under hanging laundry in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley village of Arsal, where they are being hosted by local villagers, Oct. 10, 2012. tranded in a school building seemingly

Sin the middle of nowhere, Umm Yousef

and Umm Mohammed have managed with the scarcest of resources to make the classrooms in which the two mothers and their children took refuge a few months ago somehow resemble a home. Improvised cloth curtains separate different sections of the school’s second and third floors to allow some kind of privacy for the few families who live here. Classroom chairs are pushed back to free up some space for a few mattresses, which serve as a place to sit, eat and sleep. The school’s new occupants built primitive bathrooms in the classrooms to avoid the long trip to the school’s restrooms. Confined most of the time to this school in ‘Amar Bykat, in the outskirts of Akkar in the north of Lebanon, the two women described their accommodation as a “prison.” “When we hear a car approachSamaa Abu Sharar is a free-lance journalist based in Beirut. 40

ing the school we all jump to see who came to visit, since no one ever comes and we hardly leave the premises,” both women said. Umm Mohammed’s husband was jailed and tortured at the hands of the Syrian Army for allegedly transferring weapons from Lebanon to Syria. Following his release, he fled Aleppo with his wife and five daughters. Unable to pay for a room, given that rents have skyrocketed since the beginning of the Syrian exodus, Abu Mohammed chose to house his family in this school. Sheikh Jamal Kasem, imam of the town’s mosque, who owns the school, offered to accommodate these refugees free of charge. The new residents worried that, once school began, Sheikh Kasem would ask them to leave the building so the students could resume their classes. Because of the limited number of students, however, Sheikh Kasem so far has been able to hold classes on the first floor, allowing the refugees to live on the second and third floors. Throughout Lebanon, however, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

hundreds of Syrian families have been forced by local authorities and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to leave the public schools in which they took refuge to be resettled in abandoned buildings. Dana Sleiman, UNHCR public information associate, confirmed that the problem of shelter represents a major challenge, and the agency is working with the Lebanese government to identify alternative options. “Plan B would be building shelter boxes or prefabricated houses in the backyard of schools or in public gardens,” she told the Washington Report, “and Plan C would be to provide rent temporarily to landlords so they can accommodate the families until we finish renovating abandoned schools.” According to UNHCR, more than 80,400 Syrians were registered at the beginning of October as refugees or awaiting registration. The estimates of local authorities and aid organizations are much higher than that, however. The Syrian refugee presence in Lebanon was first registered in the north of Lebanon, then in the Bekaa area. A significant refugee presence has now been recorded in the south and in Beirut itself. Some refugees live with Lebanese host families, while others live either in unused schools or have managed to rent a room. Abu Ali, who worked for years as a blacksmith in northern Lebanon before bringing his family back over a year ago from Talkalakh, believes that despite the dire living conditions of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, they fare better than his compatriots who fled to Jordan and Turkey. “They are being placed in concentration camps in Jordan and Turkey,” he asserted. “At least here we enjoy freedom of movement.” As reported by UNHCR, the pre-existing ties between Syrians and Lebanese allowed families in Lebanon to host Syrian refugees, which helped avoid such a situation. “A camp situation would have been very difficult on the refugees in terms of weather conditions, protection problems and stigmatization of refugees,” Sleiman explained. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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But the availability of aid from various organizations remains problematic for refugees like Abu Mohammed, a 34-yearold Syrian, who managed to find seasonal work as a tile worker. He does not believe that his family’s remote location in Lebanon is a legitimate excuse for their difficulty in receiving aid. “None of the NGOs has approached us,” he complained. “My children are sleeping uncovered because we have no sheets, blankets, or mats on the floor. It is still relatively hot but winter is approaching, what will we do then?” Abu Mohammed did acknowledge, however, that UNHCR had contacted the family to officially register them with the international organization. ‘They told us that if we register we will benefit from aid for refugees,” he said, “but so far we have only been given one food voucher per individual, each worth 46,000 Lebanese pounds [about $30].” According to the World Food Program (WFP), which distributed the food vouchers in conjunction with UNHCR, 33,000 Syrian beneficiaries were targeted in August. That number will potentially increase to 55,000 people in September, and the agency plans to reach up to 120,000 people by the end of this year. “The vouchers are an innovative system that allows beneficiaries to choose and buy their own food from local shops as and when they need. This gives refugees the freedom of choice and the liberty to design their own list of food commodities,’ explained Jonathan Campbell, World Food Program (WFP) emergency coordinator for Lebanon. But according to refugees, the aid most organizations are offering is inconsistent. For example, Abu Ali said he was offered a room adjacent to the town’s mosque for himself, his wife and their three children, free of charge. “I don’t know where we would be if we were not offered this place by the local community,” he said, emphasizing that many refugees depend more on the help of locals than on aid organizations. The ongoing crisis in Syria and the uncertainty of how long the refugees will remain in Lebanon has prompted international organizations such as UNHCR to lobby with the Ministry of Education to facilitate the enrollment of refugee children in public schools. “Parents were not encouraged to enroll their kids in schools at the beginning because they thought they were going back soon,” Sleiman explained, “and some children thought it was difficult to adapt to Lebanon’s French and English NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

curriculum as opposed to an all-Arabic curriculum in their country.” Nor, according to Mads Almaas, country director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), did reports of verbal harassment of Syrian children attending Lebanese schools indicate a conducive educational environment for young Syrian refugees. In addition to offering remedial classes to Syrian students, NRC is one of the organizations working with the Ministry of Education to better integrate these students in Lebanese schools. “By the end of September we will launch a pilot project in Bekaa that consists of working with 1) teachers on ways to handle traumatized children; 2) mothers who follow up on their children’s studies; and 3) host communities to mitigate tensions and encourage them to be more welcoming of those children,” Almaas emphasized.

Refugees Yet Again The hardship under which the majority of Syrian refugees are living is, of course, shared by Palestinian refugees who have fled Syria. For many of them, however, this has meant joining their compatriots in already impoverished refugee camps throughout Lebanon (see article on p. 23). Most are cramped in houses already too small for their current occupants, while a lucky few were able to rent a room in the overcrowded camps at prices they describe as too high. “I paid the first month’s rent, but now I am knocking on doors to ensure next month’s rent,” said Mohammed Dayem, who arrived two months ago from Dera’a to the Ain el Helweh camp in southern Lebanon. According to estimates by the Popular Committees (PCs) in Ain el Helweh, the number of Palestinian refugees displaced from Syria is around 17,800, most of whom are now living in the south of Lebanon. The United Nations Refugees and Works Agency (UNRWA) said that it was only approached by 3,000 displaced individuals. The majority of Palestinian refugees from Syria hold the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), UNRWA and the Lebanese government responsible for their dire situation, accusing each of failing to meet their most basic needs. ‘“We have not seen a thing from either the PLO or UNRWA or the Lebanese state,” emphasized Wissam, who with 11 family members arrived a few months ago from the Yarmouk refugee camp in the outskirts of Damascus. “If it were not for the help of other refugees and some local organizations we would be begging in the streets.” THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

UNRWA admits that the demands of the newcomers are huge and that at present it is unable to cope with the heavy load. However, it said it has extended services such as primary health care, medicines and hospitalization for life-threatening cases, in addition to educational services. “In order to cope with this situation we launched a revised regional appeal under which we requested funds to cater for the needs of 10,000 Palestinians displaced from Syria in order to provide them with food and nonfood assistance, shelter and other services,” explained UNRWA public information officer Hoda Samra. But Mohammed Hani Mawed, secretary of the PC in the Saida area, charges that UNRWA is using the lack of funds as a pretext. “This is a political issue,” he argues. “Everyone is extending help to the Syrian refugees but not to the Palestinians, simply because there is a political stand to make and they all want to see the Syrian regime go.” What the newcomers describe as UNRWA’s “inactive role” has led the PCs and the displaced families to hold numerous sit-ins against the international organization. Indeed, with the help of the PCs, a number of displaced Palestinian families have gone so far as to take over several UNRWA centers to use as temporary houses. This has prompted UNRWA to offer to renovate a deserted private school in the Ain el Helweh camp, provided free of charge by the owner, in order to temporarily house 25 to 27 families. Palestinian host families are hesitant to speak openly of the problems caused by hosting relatives and friends in such small houses for extended periods of time. According to Fouad Othman, however, who handles the displaced file with the Ain el Helweh PCs, the lack of resources and services are putting enormous pressures on host and hosted families alike, creating numerous social problems. “We heard of a few divorces as a result of this new situation,” he said, “and some 25 families in Ain el Helweh alone returned to Syria. They told us that they would rather live under fire but in dignity.” The future seems bleak for Syrian and Palestinian refugees alike in a country already burdened by countless problems of its own. “With all due respect to Palestinian refugees, we have real fears that we might become the new Palestinians in the region,” one Syrian refugee who preferred anonymity said bitterly. Facing enormous challenges every day, the two refugee communities live minute-to-minute, fearing what tomorrow might hold for them. ❑ 41


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Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis: The Should-Be Headline SpecialReport

MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/GETTYIMAGES

By Dale Sprusansky

Members of an impoverished Yemeni family in the corner of their one-room home in the slums outside the capital city of Sana’a, Sept. 4, 2012. emen is experiencing a severe and

Ygrowing humanitarian crisis—and at a

particularly inopportune time. News coverage of the Middle East has been dominated by political developments in post-uprising countries, the Iran-Israel nuclear standoff, and the plight of the war-torn Syrian people. When Yemen is discussed in the media, coverage typically focuses on the U.S. drone war or the country’s own political transition. While world leaders are aware of Yemen’s crisis, the global financial meltdown has left governments with little extra money to send Yemen’s way. And the crisis facing the country on the southwestern Arabian Peninsula is daunting. Aid agencies estimate that at least half of Yemen’s 25 million people are facing starvation, with water becoming a scarce and expensive commodity in the Arab world’s poorest nation. Experts warn that Sana’a, the nation’s capital and largest city, could run out of water by 2020. The situation facing Yemen’s children is even bleaker. UNICEF estimates that 58 percent of Yemeni children under the age of 5 are physically and intellectually Dale Sprusansky is assistant editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. 42

stunted. (Only Afghanistan has a larger percentage of stunted children.) Science tells us that after two years, the effects of stunting in young children are irreversible. This means that half of Yemen’s youngest generation—the generation tasked with solidifying the gains of Yemen’s democratic uprising—could potentially be mentally and physically underdeveloped. Nearly 40 percent of Yemen’s children lack access to adequate drinking water and sanitation. “There is an urgent need for immediate action to aid the 13 million children who make up more than half of the population,” said UNICEF representative Geert Cappelaere in a May 25 press release put out by the relief agency. While Yemen’s humanitarian crisis has been developing for years, recent political turmoil has caused the situation to worsen considerably. The ouster of long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the growing presence of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the south, and the continued al-Houthi insurgency in the northwest have put an overwhelming strain on the resources of an already struggling state. “The political crisis did not cause the humanitarian crisis, but only was…a catalyst,” explained Mohammed Qazilbash, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Yemen country director for Mercy Corps, at an Aug. 29 Atlantic Council event in Washington, DC. Because the Yemeni government lacks the resources to combat the crisis within its borders, it is reliant on the support of the international community. In early September, Yemen’s Planning and International Cooperation Minister Mohammed al-Saadi said that the country can afford only about 20 percent of the amount needed to combat the humanitarian crisis. “Our needs are $14 billion,” he said. “The Yemeni government can cover some part, but there remains a gap of $11 billion.” The government “urgently needs to spend $4.7 billion on serious humanitarian needs by February [2013],” he added. At a Sept. 4-5 donors’ conference in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, the international community took an important step in securing assistance for Yemen. According to the World Bank, a total of $6.4 billion was pledged to Yemen at the two-day conference. “The total number is $6.396 billion, to fund the short term and portions of the long term,” said Inger Andersen, World Bank vice president for the Middle East and North Africa. Saudi Arabia’s pledge of $3.25 billion was by far the largest. The U.S. pledged $846 million, Britain $311 million, and the EU $214 million. On Sept. 27, during the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, the international community pledged an additional $1.46 billion to Yemen at a “Friends of Yemen” donors conference in New York City. While the pledges are a positive development for Yemen, it is important to note that not all of the money donated will be used to alleviate the country’s humanitarian crisis. For instance, only $117 million of the $345 million the U.S. is providing this year will go toward “security, humanitarian and development assistance,” USAID administrator Rajiv Shah said. Aware of this reality, Joy Singhal, manager of Oxfam’s humanitarian response in Yemen, is hesitant to call the conferences a success. During an interview with Voice of America’s Middle East Voices Web site, he offered words of caution: “We do not know where that money is going to be spent, we do not know when that money is going to arrive, and we don’t NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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know how much of that money is going to be spent on humanitarian needs.” Perhaps the cruelest irony of Yemen’s crisis is that the country is not experiencing a food shortage. While (mostly imported) food is available, the people of Yemen simply cannot afford it. Depending on the commodity, the price of food has risen 25 to 38 percent in the past year. In a country where unemployment is high and, according to the World Food Program, 45 percent of people live below the poverty line, such high inflation spells disaster. “People cannot afford to buy basic staples,” Qazilbash lamented. Unlike food, water is anything but abundant in Yemen. As the country’s population rapidly grows, Yemen’s aquifers are drying up. Unlike its wealthy Gulf neighbors, Yemen cannot afford to build desalination plants along its coastline. According to Fatima Asrar, economic and commercial attaché at the Yemeni Embassy in Washington, DC, many families are now buying tankers of water at the costly price of 30,000 riyal (approximately $140). Given that the average Yemeni earns $100 to $200 a month, the high price of water means that families have little money left over to purchase food, medicine and other necessities. Worse yet, a disturbingly high percentage of the country’s water is used to satisfy the starving nation’s addiction to qat, a nonnutritional narcotic leaf. Yemen’s Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation estimates that 40 percent of the nation’s water is used to grow the narcotic. Yemenis spend an estimated 10 percent of their income on qat. In a nation that cannot afford to waste water and with a population that cannot afford to waste a penny, the addiction to qat continues to exacerbate the humanitarian crisis. As the crisis worsens, Yemen’s tribal system—which has until recently served as a rare source of peace and stability—is beginning to crumble. Yemeni activist Nadwa Al-Dawsari, a senior adviser with Partners for Democratic Change who has worked extensively in Yemen’s tribal areas, has witnessed this recent change. Speaking at the Aug. 29 Atlantic Council event, she opined that Yemen’s “tribal system is rapidly deteriorating in an alarming way” due to food insecurity. Al-Dawsari fears that if the traditional tribal system collapses, Yemen, long teetering on the edge of becoming a “failed state,” also will collapse. Al-Dawsari’s concerns are certainly well founded. With unemployment rates skyrocketing, the country’s large youth population is more susceptible to the message of AQAP and other rebel groups. “Terrorism NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

is growing in a climate of poverty and unemployment,” lamented Yemeni President Abd Raboo Mansur al-Hadi, speaking at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC on Sept. 28. Indeed, in recent months, young people have conducted several attacks on oil pipelines and electricity towers. According to Al-Dawsari, Yemen has spent a precious $42 million repairing destroyed electricity towers. She also estimated that Yemen has lost $1.7 billion in oil revenue due to conflict-related disruptions. While a significant boon to its economy would greatly enhance the Yemeni government’s ability to combat the humanitarian crisis, the outlook is bleak. The World Bank estimates that the country’s oil and gas supply—which accounts for 90 percent of the nation’s exports—could run out by 2017. The World Food Program points out that the resulting increased fuel prices will raise the cost of food even more due to the fact that most of Yemen’s food is imported. In the short term, it is easy to see why those who work extensively on the ground in Yemen have little optimism. Qazilbash predicted that the humanitarian crisis “is not going to go away anytime soon.” Indeed, for Yemen to emerge from its crisis will require political stability, national reconciliation, the strong and committed sup-

port of the international community, the rejuvenation of its economy, and innovative solutions to its water crisis. Realistically, this perfect storm of salvation is, unfortunately, unlikely to hit Yemen. Just as Yemen’s humanitarian crisis has developed over many years, so too will the remedy take many years. If Yemen is to overcome its current crisis, the international community must make the country a top global priority. Short-term humanitarian relief and a long-term economic vision must be the backbone of the global approach. Unfortunately, as the crisis struggles to garner the attention of the media, it is unlikely politicians will feel the political pressure to act in a more proactive and urgent manner. In many ways, Yemen’s humanitarian crisis is an indictment of the modern world. Governments can generate billions of dollars in “special money” for unaffordable wars of choice, presidential campaigns are able to raise over a billion dollars to spread lies and fear, but Washington can muster only a few extra million dollars to combat starvation. At a time when the U.S. needs to demonstrate its good will to the Arab world, Yemen could serve as a precious opportunity. To the extreme detriment of the Yemeni people, however, it’s an opportunity that likely will be lost. ❑

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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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pasquini_44-45_Northern California Chronicle 10/10/12 10:54 AM Page 44

Turkish Arts, Music, Culture Celebrated at 15th Annual Monterey Festival

Northern California Chronicle

STAFF PHOTOS PHIL PASQUINI

By Elaine Pasquini

cil meeting. “Ashkelon just happens to be a place where Palestinian Sacramentans cannot visit. Ashkelon welcomes immigrants from many places, but refuses to let the original inhabitants return.” In addition, the notorious high-security Shikma Prison—infamous for imprisoning nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu for 18 years—is located in Ashkelon. Palestinians from both the West Bank and Gaza are confined there, including Gazan engineer Dr. Dirar Abu Sisi, who was forcibly transferred from Ukraine by Israeli agents to the prison, where he was denied legal counsel for 24 days (see May/June 2011 Washington Report, p. 18) and remains in solitary confinement for reasons the Israelis will not disclose.

ABOVE: Kusadasi, Turkey town council members Yusuf Gunes (l) and Murat Sarac (r) with young folk dancers at the 15th Annual Turkish Festival in Monterey. RIGHT: Young folk dancers entertain the crowd. he Turkish American Association of

TCalifornia held its 15th annual Turkish

Arts and Culture Festival in Monterey’s Custom House Plaza on Aug. 25 and 26. Whirling dervishes, belly dancers and folk dancers entertained the hundreds of people attending the annual two-day event. Baku-born musician Imamyar Hasanov wowed the audience with his performance on the kamancha, an ancient stringed instrument of Azerbaijan (“land of fire”) played with a bow. Jewelry, textiles and crafts from Turkey were for sale in the outdoor bazaar. Visitors also enjoyed delicious Turkish cuisine, coffee and tea. Special guests included Murat Sarac and Yusuf Gunes, town council members from Kusadasi, Turkey, a sister-city of Monterey. Several members of the Turkish military—students at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey—were also on hand for the celebration. Some 50 Turkish Elaine Pasquini is a free-lance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. 44

military students currently are studying at the prestigious research university, which allows members of foreign militaries to matriculate under a variety of programs.

Despite Opposition, Sacramento Pairs With Israeli City Despite opposition from Palestinian Americans and their supporters, and after hearing testimony from both opponents and supporters of the project, the Sacramento City Council voted unanimously Aug. 14 to approve a sister-city relationship with Ashkelon, Israel. Some attendees in the council room carried Israeli flags, while others who opposed the new sister-city relationship wore T-shirts reading “Got human rights? Palestinians don’t.” Several organizations objected to the choice of Ashkelon, the ancient Philistine seaport, due to the violent expulsion of Palestinians from that area when the Jewish state was founded. “Our objection is not to an Israeli city, but to this particular Israeli city,” John Reiger, president of the Sacramento chapter of Veterans for Peace, said at the counTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

“We achieved our objective of educating the city and highlighting the Palestinian issue to the public,” Adeeb Alzanoon, a member of the Sacramento chapter of the Palestinian American Congress, told the Washington Report after the hearing. Alzanoon’s family is from the Al-Majdal Asqualan area (now Ashkelon), one of 418 Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948 when the state of Israel was created, displacing some 750,000 indigenous Palestinians. Sacramento has sister-city relations with nine other cities, including Bethlehem, Palestine (see following item).

Sacramento Bethlehem Sister City Update For almost three years, Sacramento has enjoyed an active sister-city relationship with NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


STAFF PHOTO E. PASQUINI

STAFF PHOTO PHIL PASQUINI

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John Reiger (l), president of the Sacramento chapter of Veterans for Peace, opposes the sistercity partnership with the “particular Israeli city” of Ashkelon. Mayor Victor Batarseh (r), shown here in his Bethlehem office, enjoys visiting Sacramento. Bethlehem is also a sister city to Orlando, FL; Burlington, VT and Joplin, MO.

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

Dr. Nahid Angha Promotes Dialogue And Understanding

Groups Respond to Hateful Bus Ads

STAFF PHOTO E. PASQUINI

Bethlehem, Palestine, an idea introduced by peace and social justice advocate Mary Bisharat, a longtime Sacramento resident who passed away on Feb. 18, 2012. In her honor, the group is working with the Bisharat family to establish the Mary Bisharat Memorial Fund to assist Bethlehem students with their educational needs, as well as provide travel stipends for Sacramento Bethlehem delegations traveling to the Holy Land. One of the organization’s projects helped out the Khan al-Ahmar village school near Bethlehem when the Israeli military threatened the school with demolition. Upon learning of this impending tragedy, students from Carmichael’s Lady of Assumption School sent drawings, letters of support, and even soccer balls to the students. With the assistance of the Sacramento Bethlehem group, the California students also raised funds to purchase a badly needed microscope for the Khan al-Ahmar children. The Sacramento Bethlehem group also bottles olive oil produced by farmers in the West Bank, organized in village cooperatives represented by the Palestine Fair Trade Association, and distributed by Canaan Fair Trade for sale in Sacramento. To purchase olive oil, e-mail <info@sacramentobethlehem.org>; Palestinian olive oil also is available from the AET Book Club, <www.middleeastbooks.com>.

versity campus located in San Rafael. “At some point all of this misunderstanding about Muslims must stop,” Angha said. “Hopefully, the students will be inspired during these programs and this will open some kind of dialogue among younger people that will continue long afterward. Something has to change and hopefully everyone will find some kind of understanding about each other.” Speakers at the first two programs included Dr. Nicola Pitchford, chair of the Humanities Department at Dominican University, and Iraq war veteran Aaron Hinde on Sept. 13; and Iraqi journalist Haider Hamza and activist David Harris on Oct. 11. Zaytuna College co-founder Sheikh Hamza Yusef will deliver the final talk, “A Glance into Past, a Vision for Future,” on Nov. 1. The forum, partially funded by One Nation Bay Area, encourages audience discussion and feedback. In 2001, Angha, together with the Dominican University’s Humanities Department, created the ongoing Building Bridges of Understanding series of programs to bring different faiths together after the events of 9/11. “We all have changed since the program began,” she recalled. “At the beginning, no one would think about what is Islam or Hinduism, but, in a friendly forum, you begin to learn from one another. People want to understand and communicate with others, and I think this is happening more now through the Internet.” For more information, visit <http://ias. org/dialogue2012>.

Dr. Nahid Angha in her office at the International Association of Sufism. Dr. Nahid Angha, co-founder and co-director of the International Association of Sufism (IAS) and founder of the Sufi Women Organization, sat down with the Washington Report in her cozy Novato office on Aug. 22 to discuss the upcoming program the IAS is presenting with Dominican University’s Campus Ministry. Titled “Muslim non-Muslim Dialogue,” the educational event will be held on three evenings—one each in September, October and November—at the Garden Room of the Heritage House on the Dominican UniTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Bay Area peace and justice groups moved into high gear in late August after anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic advertisements appeared on the sides of San Francisco MUNI buses. The ads reading, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man—Support Israel—Defeat Jihad,” were paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) founded by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. “While the community respects the importance of free expression even for offensive speech, it is clear that these ads were designed specifically to intimidate Muslim, Arab and Palestinian members of the San Francisco community,” said Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Council on AmericanIslamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area. Human rights organizations, including CAIR-SFBA, Bay Area Women in Black, South Bay Mobilization, Asian Law Caucus, American Muslims for Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, have been coordinating community mobilization and response since complaints about the advertisements were first received. ❑ 45


twair_46-47_Southern California Chronicle 10/10/12 10:57 AM Page 46

“After Zionism” Forum Sparks Lively Dialogue in Westwood Hills Church

STAFF PHOTO S. TWAIR

By Pat and Samir Twair

“After Zionism” panelists (l-r) Saree Makdisi, Antony Loewenstein, moderator Mark LeVine and Marcy Jane Knopf-Newman. hat Happens After Zionism?” was the controversial topic of a Sept. 20 public forum sponsored by the Levantine Cultural Center that drew Israel-proponents and Palestine supporters alike to the Westwood Hills Congregational Church. Prof. Mark LeVine, who teaches history at the University of California at Irvine, moderated the discussion. Panelists were Antony Loewenstein, co-editor of the anthology After Zionism: One State for Israel and Palestine (available from the AET Book Club), UCLA professor Saree Makdisi, who contributed an essay to Loewenstein’s book entitled “The Power of Narrative: Reimagining the Palestinian Struggle,” and Marcy Jane Knopf-Newman, author of The Politics of Teaching Palestine to Americans. Makdisi noted the disconnect in Zionist mentality, which boasted about making the desert bloom while eradicating Palestinian villages, or professing tolerance while desecrating a centuries-old Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem to make way for a Jewish museum parking lot. LeVine interjected, saying it’s the old settler versus the aborigines thinking that encourages Israelis to think they can get

“W

Pat and Samir Twair are free-lance journalists based in Los Angeles. 46

away with marginalizing Palestinians because they’ve been successful at it—so far. A question to Knopf-Newman dealt with the California legislature’s nonbinding resolution HR 35, which defines speech critical of Israeli policies as anti-Semitic. As an educator, she uses what she calls a “backdoor policy” to insert the Palestinian voice through music, art and poetry in her classes. In Makdisi’s opinion, HR 35 is indicative of desperation. “It’s difficult to stop people from thinking,”

he said. The panel responded to a rambling question by an elderly Zionist dealing with Arab states being totalitarian and the inability of Jews and Arabs to get along, particularly since the Palestinian national anthem allegedly extols Jewish blood flowing in the streets. Israel calls itself a democracy, Loewenstein noted, and therefore should behave in a civil fashion by treating all people as equals. Arguing that “Israel already has been one state since 1967,” Makdisi added that “now the question is will it continue to be a state of inequality or treat all as equals.” LeVine noted that until December 2010, most Arab states were authoritarian. The Arabs don’t have their rights yet, he continued, but there’s hope they will. Speaking from the audience, Monir Deeb addressed the Palestinian national anthem assertion: “The Zionist attitude is elitist and turns on the myth switch that Jews and Arabs are incompatible. Learn the facts. I see mostly Palestinian blood in the streets, not Jewish blood.” At this point, an Israel-firster stood up and decried Palestinian propaganda. The Palestinians said 500 had been slain in Jenin by the Israelis, she claimed, when THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Southern California Chronicle the death count was closer to 50. She went on to aver that 12-year-old Mohammed alDurra was not killed by Israeli bullets and that his murder is a myth perpetuated by Palestinians. Her statement about the Sept. 30, 2000 shooting death of the young boy and wounding of his father near Gaza City elicited a collective gasp from the audience. Knopf-Newman was the first to respond: “How would you feel if I were to say the Holocaust didn’t happen?” LeVine flatly stated the deliberate shooting of Mohammed and his father who held the boy in his arms has been thoroughly documented. After the program, Samir Mansour, a retired U.S. Navy officer, approached the elderly Zionist and sang him the words of the Palestinian national anthem. Inasmuch as he sang in Arabic, the Zionist still didn’t know the actual words in the anthem.

Muslims, Copts in Unison As violent protests against the hate film “The Innocence of Muslims” intensified throughout the Middle East, repercussions hit hardest in Southern California, where the mastermind behind the amateur movie blaspheming the Prophet Mohammed resides. The shady filmmaker with 14 different aliases and social security numbers was identified as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian-born Copt who served two prison terms in the U.S. for fraud and methamphetamine production. An historic reaction to the film believed to have sparked the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was a joint press conference Sept. 17 on the steps of the Los Angeles City Hall by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and the Coptic Christian Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles. Speaking for their organizations were MPAC’s senior adviser Dr. Maher Hathout and His Grace Bishop Serapion. “There should have been no reaction to such an insignificant production,” stated Dr. Hathout. “The behavior exhibited doesn’t speak for the majority of Muslims and are the actions of a small group. This irrational behavior can’t be allowed to spread, and this movie can’t be allowed to dictate our actions.” NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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STAFF PHOTO S. TWAIR

STAFF PHOTO S. TWAIR

PHOTO COURTESY MPAC

children born to Bernard and Miriam Flynn. Patrick grew up in the affluent Los Angeles area of Los Feliz, where neighbor Cecil B. DeMille often invited residents to view his latest films as a projectionist from Paramount Studios showed them in a screening room in his mansion. After graduating from Villa Nova Prep School in Ojai and attending Loyola-Marymount University for two years, Patrick served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1952 to 1955. He received a business degree from the University of Southern California in 1957, and the following year married Nellie Beatty, a registered nurse. Patrick began a lifelong career in public relations in Los Angeles. He was introduced to Arab culture in 1977, when he accepted a position Syrian Refugees in Need with Parsons Corporation, which was the planning and management conGhaitha Olabi discussed her 10-day tractor for the design and development fact-finding visit with Syrian refugees of Yanbu on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea in Turkey during an Aug. 27 dinner coast. It was the largest industrial commeeting at the Embassy Suites Hotel, munity project ever planned, with a Anaheim. Sponsors of the “Eid Reflectargeted population of 200,000. tions of the Syrian Revolution” event Initially Patrick lived in Jeddah and were the Southern California Syrian then, from 1979 to 1982, in Yanbu, Coordination Committee, Syrian where Americans and other Western American Council/Los Angeles and expatriates lived among the Saudis the Syrian Expatriates Organization. rather than in compounds. Patrick Olabi, a Syrian from Aleppo who looks back on those years as the adlives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, visited venture of his life. “I have a great adthe Kilis Camp just inside the Turkish miration for the Saudis and their way border in her capacity as a founder of of life,” he said, adding that it was a the Syrian Society for Humanitarian wonderful experience for his seven Relief and Development. Enhancing children, who visited in the summers. the sense of urgency of the needs of In 1982, he returned to the U.S. and Syrian refugees were the color slides held an administrative job with Aramthat illustrated her presentation. TOP: Bishop Serapion of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese Lack of medicine and water add to of Los Angeles (l) hugs Dr. Maher Hathout of the co in Housthe refugees’ desperation, Olabi stated. Muslim Public Affairs Council during a joint press ton. When Many go without showers for weeks or conference Sept. 17 at L.A. City Hall. ABOVE: “Eid he returned up to months. Olabi said she met a Reflections” emcee Hanadi Alwan (l) and keynote to Los Angeles in 1984, young woman who’d been wearing the speaker Ghaitha Olabi. Patrick besame dress for seven months. Those blinded in the fighting require therapy and women refugees to become self-sufficient. came involved attention abroad. Amputees are in need of The first is to send sewing machines and with the Arabfabrics so they can market their products in American commuprosthetics specialists and wheelchairs. “One 16-year-old, whose leg had been am- Turkey, and secondly to cook foods that nity and joined putated, begged me to give him an artificial can be sold to nearby Turkish restaurants. the Americanleg so he could continue the battle,“ Olabi Olabi can be contacted at <ghissamo@hot Arab Anti-Discrimination Comsaid. She recalled holding a 3-year-old sur- mail.com>. mittee (ADC) and Patrick Flynn. vivor of a massacre in which her mother and 15 other relatives were slain, and showed a Washington Report Supporter Feted National Associaslide of a 4-year-old orphaned girl who Through the years, Patrick Flynn has been a tion of Arab Americans (NAAA). In the fall walked into Kilis Camp by herself. loyal friend of Arab Americans and the of 1990, Patrick chaired the NAAA’s national Olabi also interviewed rape victims of the Washington Report. On Sept. 15 these writ- convention in Anaheim, CA. This turned out Syrian army and government militias and ers were present at a family celebration mark- to be a daunting task, as delegates clashed urged Syrian men to respect them as hon- ing his 80th birthday in the Fullerton home over the looming first war with Iraq. He also was active as a board member of the Orange orable women of the revolution. She has of his daughter, Maureen Flynn-Becerra. launched two projects to assist Syrian The native Californian is the oldest of 12 County Arab American Republican Club. ❑ Looking into a battery of TV cameras, Bishop Serapion commented: “The actions of a few ignorant individuals do not represent the collective diaspora Copts, nor do they represent the collective Muslim community. As Christians, we’re proud of our core values that teach love and respect for others. It is moments like these that we stand with those who share a common respect of all religions and love of humanity.” Nakoula will likely return to prison for violating terms of his probation which ordered him to not use computers or the Internet. He used many while filming the hate movie, during which even the actors were given bogus scripts, leading them to believe it was about a biblical theme.

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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adas_48-50_New York City and Tri-State News 10/10/12 11:00 AM Page 48

Moving Film “The Other Son” Questions Essence of Israeli, Palestinian Identity

is not addressed). The two men go for coffee, but sit in awkward silence facing away from each other. Eventually they come around— each embraces the son he has raised. Joseph’s immediate reaction is, “Should I change my kippa for a suicide bomb?” He asks his rabbi, “Am I Jewish?” The rabbi responds that Jewishness is not a religion, but a state and that “the other is Jewish by his mother.” He assures Joseph that God will help in his conversion. While Yacine’s family, all generations, are dancing and laughing together, we see Joseph dancing alone in a psychedelic nightclub. Gradually, Bilal, Joseph and Yacine become friends. The three are at the beach when a gang of anonymous toughs picks a fight with them and stabs Yacine. At the hospital afterward, Yacine says, “You have my life, Joseph. Don’t mess it up.” COURTESY COHEN MEDIA GROUP

By Jane Adas

New York City and Tri-StateNews

(L-r) Joseph (Jules Sitruk) and Yacine (Mehdi Dehbi). magine finding out that the son you have

Iraised, cherished, and instilled with your

values turns out to be, biologically, your enemy. Imagine growing up proud of your heritage, then discovering that you are, genetically, one of those you have learned to fear and disdain. This is the premise of French director and co-writer Lorraine Lévy’s “The Other Son” (“Le fils de l’autre”), due to be released Oct. 26. Two babies born in a Haifa clinic on Jan. 23, 1991, the sixth day of the first Gulf war, were accidentally switched when the clinic was evacuated. The Israeli couple, Orith, a French-born physician, and Alon, an army commander, name their son Joseph. When we meet him 18 years later, Joseph is a barmitzvahed, yeshiva-educated, budding musician who likes to hang out at the beach with his friends and smoke pot. It is only when Joseph has blood tests as part of IDF processing for his obligatory military service that the long-ago mistake is discovered. The Palestinian family lives in the West Jane Adas is a free-lance writer based in the New York City metropolitan area. 48

Bank. They had happened to be in Haifa when their son was born prematurely because the mother, Leila, was visiting her sister. Her husband, Said, is a music-loving engineer who, because of the strictures of occupation, works as an auto mechanic. This is the couple’s second son, whom they name Yacine. A third son has died, but we never learn how or why. We meet the older son, Bilal, at a checkpoint awaiting Yacine’s return from France, where he has been living with diaspora relatives while completing his baccalauréat. Yacine plans to return to France to study medicine. The mothers are ready to accept both sons, but the fathers have a harder time coming to terms with the revised reality. Alon furiously washes the family car in the middle of the night; while family and friends celebrate Yacine’s return, Said weeps under the car he is repairing. When the two fathers meet, they argue, Said complaining about the occupation and Alon responding, “It’s your leaders who destroy you, not us Israelis.” Later Said goes to Tel Aviv to talk with Alon (how he is able to enter Israel from the West Bank THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

After Zionism: Antony Loewenstein And Philip Weiss at Brecht Forum Three years ago the editors of the Mondoweiss Web site, Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz, had a conversation about how the two-state solution had come to be viewed as the only possible road map for resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. With a view to widening the discussion, they invited Antony Loewenstein, an Australian Jew, and Ahmed Moor, a Palestinian from Gaza, to edit a collection of essays representing a range of opinions on the topic. The result: After Zionism: One State for Israel and Palestine (available from the AET Book Club) has just been published. Weiss and Loewenstein spoke about the book at the Brecht Forum in New York on Sept. 18. Now, three years later, with 700,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank, Loewenstein sees the debate over one or two states as finished. This, he added, was why the Oslo process was engineered in the first place. He described the situation today as an unjust one-state reality. Loewenstein cautioned that NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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is Palestinian rockets on southern Israel.” Weiss is also troubled by progressive American Jewish organizations. As Loewenstein asserted, JStreet is no different than AIPAC in promoting Jewish privilege over Arab rights. Weiss pointed out that Americans for Peace Now’s tactic of trying to move their community forward by engaging with Jewish fundamentalists is no more successful than if Catholics were to dialogue about abortion.

STAFF PHOTOS J. ADAS

any pressure on or from the Obama administration to restart the process could normalize the extreme inequality between the two sides and lead to bantustans that Israel would accept because “Palestine” would be weak and demilitarized. Loewenstein does not expect a fair solution to emerge from within Israeli society. He noted that Palestinians were invisible in the social justice movement during the summer of 2011,

TOP: Antony Loewenstein (l) and Philip Weiss. ABOVE (l-r): Hazem Fahmy, Mona El Ghobashy and Samer Shehata. the biggest in Israeli history, and acknowledged that the protesters’ argument that raising the issue of occupation would divide the protest was probably true. Nor does he think it fair to expect Palestinians to resolve the conflict, since Israel is a foreign project imported from Europe. The responsibility, Loewenstein concluded, lies with us—international civil society—and one of the means is the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement. At present, he sees BDS as having a psychological effect on Israelis, which in the short term is moving them to a bunker mentality, but if BDS begins to exact an economic price and if fundamentalist/Orthodox elements in Israeli society continue to gain strength, Loewenstein sees the possibility of “secular” Jews abandoning Israel. Jewish identity concerns brought Weiss to the issue of Zionism, which he feels, like Communism, has not worked out. He noted that German society has had to struggle with collective responsibility for Nazis, NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

Palestinians for suicide bombers, and now Jews for Zionism. At first, Weiss was eager to engage his own community of liberal American Jews, which he considers a powerful force in the U.S. and with whom he has had what he described as a “lovers’ quarrel.” But Weiss has grown discouraged, he said. He has made several visits to the region, and each time has found the situation worse. On a tour through Hebron with Breaking the Silence, Weiss asked, “What do Israelis think about this?” His guide responded, “They don’t know…or don’t want to know.” Recently, Weiss attended a party of mostly liberal, non-Jewish, privileged Americans who feel inhibited on this subject and were grateful for the opportunity to discuss it with him. Weiss was telling them how bad Oslo has been for Palestinians and that he sees no peaceful solution to the conflict, when a woman came up and said, “My family and friends in Israel are fine. The only thing worrying them THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Then there is the issue of uncomfortable “optics.” What moved Peter Beinart to write The Crisis of Zionism was a YouTube video of a small Palestinian boy, the age of Beinart’s own son, upset that Israeli soldiers were taking away his father. Rather than acknowledging that the “struggle is destroying [Palestinian] lives on a daily basis,” Weiss described Beinart’s response as trying to save Zionism. All of this has left Weiss feeling bleak and ready to declare “I am an anti-Zionist….My lovers’ quarrel about this issue may be about to end.”

New School Forum on PostPresidential Election Egypt The New School in New York hosted a Sept. 19 panel discussion about Egypt after the presidential election. Hazem Fahmy with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs portrayed the situation as quite fluid, with no national consensus in the 19 months since Hosni Mubarak was deposed. According to 49


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Fahmy, there are political divisions within the four main political groups—the revolutionaries, who are mostly young and liberal, but without a leader; the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF); the old regime and business interests; and the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis. Muslim parties won 70 percent of the seats in a parliamentary election, but then the Supreme Court dissolved parliament. Egypt has yet to draft a new constitution, and Fahmy sees no clear way forward until the political process is resolved. Professor Mona El Ghobashy of Barnard College credited the role of popular politics with being the driving force of the revolution. As when Mubarak was in power, there continue to be daily actions against shortages and corruption. El Ghobashy cited partial strikes in one week alone by bus drivers, metro conductors, schoolteachers and university administrators. Although opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood argue that nothing has changed, and SCAF called the strikes a “selfish obstruction of the cycle of production,” El Ghobashy argued that the protests merit attention because they are not only about economic grievances. What the strikers are demanding, she explained, is a wholesale restructuring of the bureaucratic structures in which they work, as well as more individual involvement in forming policies. What is new, she concluded, is the postrevolutionary extent of public debate about the direction of economic policy. Professor Samer Shehata of Georgetown University drew attention to two themes since Mohamed Morsi’s election in June. Concerning civil/military relations, he said it is impossible to overestimate the significance of Morsi’s Aug. 12 decree to retire forcibly the first and second chiefs of staff: Field Marshal Mohammed Tantawi and Lt.Gen. Sami Anan. This, Shehata explained, will reduce the role of the military in political structures, although there will still not be civilian control of the military. On economic issues, Shehata noted that the labor protests that El Ghobashy described began in 2004 in reaction to Mubarak’s institution of neoliberal policies—belief in markets, deregulation, and IMF loans. While these did indeed increase GDP and foreign investment, he said, they also led to inflation, increased poverty, income inequality and corruption. Shehata predicted that this will be a dilemma for President Morsi since his policies are more of the same, minus corruption. The Muslim Brotherhood, he added, views inequality through the lens of charity. Shehata con50

cluded by stating that liberals believe in democracy, but only if they win, and that the Muslim Brotherhood does not believe

in liberal democracy. As for the economy and security, he said, the people want change—but they also crave normality. ❑

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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


brownfeld_51-52_Israel and Judaism 10/10/12 11:18 AM Page 51

Israeli Occupation Destructive Not Only to Palestinians, But to Jewish Morals, Ethics Israel andJudaism

By Allan C. Brownfeld

ince 1967, Israel has transferred, in de-

Sfiance of international law, more than

half a million of its Jewish citizens, almost 7 percent of the state’s total Jewish population, to almost 300 distinct locations outside its borders. While Israeli governments repeatedly express support for a two-state solution, they have continued to settle the very territories which would constitute a future Palestinian state. Within the American Jewish community, there is growing dismay with Israel’s four-and-a-half-decade settlement enterprise. Writing in the June 26 edition of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, formerly the leader of the Union for Reform Judaism, noted that he “spoke a few weeks ago with someone who works with American Jewish organizations in planning programs for their meetings and conventions. ‘Israel is out,’ he told me. The demand for speakers about Israel or from Israel has dropped dramatically over the last decade. American Jews are simply interested in other things.” Shortly thereafter, Israel’s coalition government announced that while it would evacuate five homes constructed on Palestinian-owned land in Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank, it also would build 851 additional housing units elsewhere on occupied Palestinian land. “There is no government that supports, or will support, settlements more than my government,” declared Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. That Palestinians living in the occupied territories are suffering is undeniable. In its recent human rights report, the U.S. Department of State detailed arbitrary arrests and killings in the Israeli-occupied territories, as well as discrimination against Arab citizens and refugees inside Israel itself. In the section on the West Bank and East Jerusalem the State Department report, Allan C. Brownfeld is a syndicated columnist and associate editor of the Lincoln Review, a journal published by the Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, and editor of Issues, the quarterly journal of the American Council for Judaism. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

which covered 2011, noted that Israeli forces killed 105 Palestinians, including 17 minors. It also cited allegations that interrogation methods used by the Israelis on Palestinian detainees, including children, could amount to torture. According to the report, Israel restricted movements of Palestinians within the West Bank and on boundary areas within Gaza, and limited travel in and out of Gaza. The report also found that Israeli authorities have made 85 percent of fishing waters off Gaza mostly or entirely inaccessible to Palestinian fishermen.

tremble for my “I country when I reflect that God is just.” It is not only Palestinians who are the victims of the Israeli occupation—made possible, despite the State Department’s findings, by U.S. tax dollars. Much as slaveholders in the American South in the years before the Civil War had their moral and ethical values distorted by the slaveholding enterprise, Israel’s illegal occupation has shattered Jewish moral and ethical tradition as well. In his Notes on the State of Virginia, slaveholder Thomas Jefferson wrote: “There must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people produced by the existence of slavery among us. The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submission on the other.” Jefferson feared for the soul of his country in the face of the depredations of slavery: “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever; that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation is THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

among possible events; that it may become probably by supernatural interference.” Hundreds of young Israeli Jews who have served in the military in the occupied territories have recoiled in dismay from what they have been asked to do. They have established the organization Breaking the Silence. Its members are Israeli military veterans who have served since the start of the second intifada (September 2000) and have taken upon themselves the imperative to expose the Israeli public to everyday life in the occupied territories. Founded in March 2004, Breaking the Silence has fulfilled the unique role of making heard the voices of soldiers who previously had remained silent. Breaking the Silence (<www.breaking thesilence.org.il>), a book published with the support of the Delegation of the European Union to Israel, contains 60 testimonials of combatants who served in the South Hebron Hills between 2000 and 2008. Testimony 11, from a sergeant in the Lavi Battalion, reported that, “This man was on his way out of Yatta, he crossed a barrier on his way to Hebron, to a dairy. His truck was carrying milk containers. I think Hebron was under curfew at the time. Anyway, he was not supposed to be allowed through...I ordered him out of his car...shackled and blindfolded him, and took him to the sentry post...I know it was somewhere around 10 a.m. He was released sometime between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. And this was summertime. So he was held in custody all day. He simply sat in the sentry post shackled and blindfolded. He had some 2000 liters of milk in that truck, and all went sour. Looking back, I am ashamed....What did he do? A regular guy. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time...what was gained by my actions? Nothing at all. Did they actually serve state security? No. This was pure and simple injustice inflicted upon a human being. And that’s wrong.” Testimony 15, from a first artillery sergeant, reported that the Jewish settlers in the South Hebron Hills “carried out plenty of actions there. Sealing wells...Our battalion’s mission was essentially to secure 51


brownfeld_51-52_Israel and Judaism 10/10/12 11:18 AM Page 52

the Jewish settlers...Securing meaning this ring around them. They made the Palestinian cave dwellers’ lives pretty miserable. Occasionally they’d just go over to harass them, questioning them, rummaging in their belongings, and the peak was that these people’s lives became unbearable— they no longer had any water. Their wells had been sealed, their caves destroyed, so they left.” Testimony 21 from a first sergeant of the Levi Battalion tells of a deputy commander who “was a terrorist...a settler, an Arabhater” who, on one occasion, “slapped some Palestinian right in front of his children, which was a very big mistake...He would do things to harass people because he simply hates Arabs.” Testimony 49 from a first sergeant in the Lavi Battalion tells of settlers cutting down olive trees belonging to Palestinians: “Terrible...I wanted to kill them...I went to the Arabs and said to them, ‘I understand you. I’ve got land too. If someone did this to me, I’d go off and carry out a terrorist attack the same day.’…I told the commander, ‘If I get hold of the guy who did this I’ll beat the hell out of him.’...The commander says, ‘There’s nothing we can do.’ The police came the next day. The police couldn’t care less.”

Manifest Racism The racism which has manifested itself should be shocking to Jews who have been the victims of persecution in so many places over so many years. Instead there is, for example, official tolerance of groups that seek to prevent Jewish-Arab dating or marriages. In 2011, a rally in Ashkelon against “Arabs who associate with [Jewish] girls” was led by a city councilor. The previous year, the municipality of Petah Tikva set up a “task force” to “patrol the city at night and break up Arab-Jewish dates.” In February 2011 The Committee for the Advancement of Women in Knesset held a hearing on the need to “combat intermarriage.” Recent public opinion polls in Israel find that over half of Jewish Israelis say marriage to an Arab is “equal to national treason.” Thirty-six percent of Jewish Israelis are in favor of revoking the voting rights of non-Jews. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled similar anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional in 1967—the year Israel conquered and illegally occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. According to The Daily Beast Web site of June 25, 2012, Yesha settler council chairman Danny Dayan made a rare criti52

cism of violence among his fellow settlers: “I shamefully admit that even when a Molotov cocktail was hurled at a children’s room in Hawara and I presented a condemnation resolution at the Yesha Council, I was told, ‘We do not condemn the harming of Arabs.’” On a recent visit to Israel to receive this year’s Dan David Prize at Tel Aviv University, the South African Jewish artist William Kentridge told the June 22-28 international edition of The Jerusalem Post that he saw similarities between Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and apartheid in his own country. “I think there are a lot of similarities....in the daily humiliation of people, the way people are treated in the West Bank at roadblocks, rules about what roads people can use and can’t use,” he said. “These are very similar to the daily humiliations in South Africa during apartheid. And the rage that that engenders—that South Africa experienced and managed to get through—is here as well.” In June, Miko Peled, the Israeli author of The General’s Son (available from the AET Book Ctore) appeared in New York to promote his book. His father, Matti Peled, was a leading general in the 1967 war and also served as an officer in the 1948 war. On the Mondoweiss Web site, founder Philip Weiss posted on June 27: “Miko Peled never spoke on equal terms with Palestinians until 2000 in San Diego. Then he began learning their stories and it was painful to him. He heard about the Nakba from people who had experienced it and he trusted. He recognized that the Law of Return for Jews claiming a 2,000-year-old connection was a hypocritical double standard when people living in Palestine 60 years ago can’t come back to their homes. People say Palestinians should get over it. But Jews are taught to nurse the grievances of thousands of years ago in Egypt at the Passover services, and to teach their children not to forget. Who are we to tell Palestinians not to forget their expulsion inside their own lifetimes?” Peled’s mother told him that in 1948 she had been offered an Arab house, as the wife and family of an officer, and turned it down, staying instead in a small apartment. And she had seen Jews looting Arab homes in 1948 and felt great shame. “Jews don’t do these things,” she said. “There are many things we were taught that Jews don’t do,” Peled recalled. “And we were wrong.” Palestinian suffering is well known and understood. The damage being done to the humane Jewish moral and ethical tradition THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

by the actions of the Israeli government and the settler movement is only now coming into view for many. Let us hope that it is not too late. ❑ United States Postal Service Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation (required by 39 USC 6985 (1) Publication Title: Washington Report on Middle East Affairs; (2) Publication No: 015505; (3) Filing Date: 10/1/12; (4) Issue Frequency: Every six weeks in Jan/Feb, May, Aug., Nov./Dec.; Eleven weeks March/April; Five weeks June/July, Sept., Oct (5) No. of issues published annually: 8; (6) Annual subscription price: $29; (7) Complete mailing address of known office of publication: American Educational Trust, 1902 18th St., NW, Washington, DC 20009-1707; (8) Complete mailing address of headquarters or general business office: American Educational Trust, 1902 18th St., NW, Washington, DC 20009-1707; (9) Full names and complete mailing addresses of publisher, editor and managing editor: Publisher: Andrew Kil gore, 1902 18th St., NW, Washington, DC 20009-1707, Executive Editor: Richard Curtiss, 1902 18th St., NW, Washington, DC 20009-1707, News Editor: Delinda Hanley, 1902 18th St., NW, Washington, DC 20009-1707, Managing Editor: Janet McMahon, 1902 18th St., NW, Washington, DC 200091707; (10) Owner: American Educational Trust, 1902 18th St., NW, Washington, DC 20009-1707; (11) Known bondholders, mortgagees, and other security holders owning or holding 1 percent or more of total amount of bonds, mortgages, or other securities: none; (12) The purpose, function, and nonprofit status of this organization and the exempt status for federal income tax purposes has not changed during preceding 12 months; (13) Publication title: Washington Report on Middle East Affairs; (14) Issue date for circulation data below: XXXI-7, October 2012`;(15) Extent and nature of circulation: (a) total no. copies (net press run): Average no. copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 11,777 No. copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 10,500; (b) Paid and/or requested circulation: (1) Paid/requested OutsideCounty mail subscriptions stated on Form 5,136 (include advertiser’ s proof and exchange copies): Average no. copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 5,904, No. copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 5,006; (2) Paid In-County subscriptions stated on Form 3541 (include advertiser’ s proof and exchange copies): Average no. copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0, No. copies of single issue published nearest to filing date,0; (3) Sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors, counter sales, and other non-USPS paid distribution: Average no. copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 1,100. 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Average no. copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 3,710 No. copies of single issue published nearest to filing date 11,427 (g) Total distribution (sum of 15c and f): Average no. copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 10,100, No. copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 10,100; (h) Copies not distributed: Average no. copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 350; No. copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 400; (i) Total (sum of 15g and h): Average no. copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 11,777 No. copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 10,500; (j) percent paid and/or requested circulation (15c/15gX100): Average no. copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 62%, No. copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 63%; (16) This statement of ownership wil be printed in the Nov./Dec. 2012 issue of this publication; (17) Signature and Title of Editor, Publisher, Business Manager, or Owner: Delinda Hanley, Executive Director, 10/1/12, I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil sanctions (including civil penalties). Failure to file or publish a statement of ownership may lead to suspension of second-class authorization. PS Form 3526 October 1999 (Facsimile).

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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Arab-American Activism New AAI Poll: Arab Americans Continue to Drift to the Democrats The Arab American Institute (AAI) released the results of its survey “The Arab American Vote: 2012” at a Sept. 27 press briefing at its Washington, DC headquarters. Presented by AAI founder and president Dr. Jim Zogby, the poll was the latest installment in a 16-year survey of Arab-American attitudes across the United States. The 2012 poll registered rising disenchantment among Arab Americans with both political parties, with independents growing to nearly a quarter of the community. While identification with the Democratic Party registered a greater decline of 8 percent, the 5 percent drop in Republican identification brought GOP support to an all-time low of 22 percent among Arab Americans. Conforming to its post-2002 trend, the Arab-American community remained strongly blue, with 2 to 1 support for the Democrats. In line with Democratic fortunes, support for President Barack Obama also registered a decline from its 2008 peak, with 15 percent of those who voted Democrat in the last presidential election describing themselves as independents or undecided this cycle. The president, however, continued to outpace his Republican challenger, and Arab Americans found President Obama’s policies better than Gov. Mitt Romney’s in all areas queried: from the economy and health care to Middle East policy and taxes. Among the survey’s more intriguing findings is the difference in the personal experiences and political attitudes of Christian and Muslim Arab Americans. This discrepancy is pervasive across social experiences and voting preferences. While 71 percent of Arab-American Muslims reported concerns regarding discrimination because of their ethnicity or country of origin, only 37 and 29 percent of Protestant and Catholic Arab Americans, respectively, said they faced discrimination. This discrepancy is partially explained by differences in Muslim and Christian experiences: 55 percent of Muslims reported having personally been victims of discrimination, as compared to only 42 percent of Protestants/Orthodox and 30 percent of Catholics. Community identification, too, reflected this difference. While 22 percent of ArabAmerican Catholics and 26 percent of Orthodox/Protestants reported identifying as neither Arab American nor with their country of origin, only 5 percent of Arab-Amer54

ican Muslims reported the same. Similarly, pride in ethnic heritage ran highest among ArabAmerican Muslims, at 93 percent, while Orthodox/Protestants and Catholics reported being proud of their heritage at 75 percent and 79 percent, respectively. Commenting on this difference, Dr. Zogby noted that, in addition to the far-right, Islamophobic polemic that has marginalized Muslims, immigration patterns also influenced identity choices. Many Arab-American Christian families came to Dr. Jim Zogby describes the Arab American Vote poll. this country in the earliest Commenting on the results, Dr. Zogby dewaves of migration, he pointed out, and are deeply assimilated in the American fabric. scribed them as unsurprising, since disenConsequently, they are less likely to identify chantment with Democratic performance has substantially eroded blue support from with their national or ethnic background. These distinct experiences also translated its 2008 high. Support for Republicans, on into divergent voting attitudes, and blue ten- the other hand, has remained low due to the dencies ran overwhelmingly high among growth of far-right, anti-Arab rhetoric Arab-American Muslims, 75 percent of within the GOP. Unlike the 2008 election cycle, when whom said they would support President Obama if elections were held today, com- ethnic outreach was a priority for both pared to a mere 8 percent who would cast a campaigns, this season instead has seen a vote for the Republican candidate. On the focus on Internet advertising and neighother hand, Republican support was signifi- borhood organizations. While the Latino cantly higher among Arab Christians, with and African-American communities have 36 percent of Catholics, and 40 percent of Or- been courted by the candidates, smaller thodox/Protestants reporting GOP allegiance. ethnic populations (with the exception of Despite these differences, both Muslim Jewish Americans) have received scant atand Christian Arab Americans, like many tention from either camp. Without strong other American communities, identified jobs outreach by the Republicans, Zogby sugand the economy as the most important fac- gested, it was unlikely that GOP support tor in November’s elections. While job secu- would rise among Arab Americans. While rity was reported in the mid-60 percent by Republicans enjoy small but steadfast all groups (Republicans and Democrats, na- pockets of support, he acknowledged, the tive- and foreign-born), the economy vastly party must either adjust its strategy “or outstripped all other issues in this election write this community off.” The poll was conducted by JZ Analytics, cycle. This concern crossed party lines, with self-identified Democrats and Republicans which surveyed 400 Arab-American voters reporting this as their top concern, at 81 between Sept. 8 and Sept. 14, 2012. AAI will release updated numbers toward the percent and 87 percent, respectively. —Hamzah Saif Arab-American Democrats additionally end of October 2012. expressed great concern for health care, while Republicans registered more lukeHuman Rights warm, with nearly one in ten deeming it “not at all important” in their voting deciSenate Hearing on Sikh Shooting sion. At least 80 percent of Arab-American vot- And Domestic Extremism ers consider the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Concerned by the spree of violent crimes important in their vote. Independents are that took place this past summer, the U.S. more likely to consider civil liberties “very Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a important,” and Democrats are more likely Sept. 19 hearing on “Hate Crimes and the than Republicans or Independents to con- Threat of Domestic Extremism” at the Hart sider U.S. outreach to the Arab and Muslim Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. Sen. world as “very important” in determining Dick Durbin (D-IL) presided over the heartheir vote. ing. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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Speaking at the be added as a category in the FBI’s hate hearing’s second crime data. “Senators, I came here today to panel, Daryl John- ask the government to give my mother the son, founder and dignity of being a statistic,” he said. James B. Jacobs, a constitutional law proowner of DT Analytics, a company fessor at New York University, concluded that monitors do- the hearing by calling into question the way mestic extremism, in which hate crimes are prosecuted and asserted that “the punished. “Hate crime laws are counterprofederal govern- ductive,” he argued. “They politicize crime ment must do and spawn charges of hypocrisy and double more to combat standards. “Another irony,” he added, “is the use of domestic terrorism.” DHS cur- prison to punish bias crimes. Prisons, as we Harpreet Singh Saini testifies at a hearing on hate crimes at the Hart rently only has one know, are the number one spawning Senate Office Building, as his brother Kamaljit listens behind him. analyst assigned to ground for hate groups.” —Dale Sprusansky monitoring domesWhile the hearing was largely convened tic terrorism, he noted. As an example of as a response to the Aug. 5 killing of Sikhs the threat posed by domestic extremists, Muslim-American Activism at a temple in Oak Creek, WI, the Aurora, Johnson pointed out that eight Michigan CO movie theater shooting, the burning of militiamen recently acquitted of plotting to a mosque in Joplin, MO, and a range of kill police officers “had an arsenal of Exhibition Highlights Muslim other incidents were also discussed. The weapons at their disposal that was larger Inventions hearing was exceptionally well-attended by than all 230-plus Muslim plotters and at- Following its immensely popular appearthe Sikh community: Senator Durbin an- tackers charged in the U.S. since 9/11 com- ances in Los Angeles (see August 2011 nounced that more than 400 individuals— bined.” Washington Report, p. 30), New York, IsHarpreet Singh Saini, whose mother was tanbul and London, National Geographic’s some of whom were forced to watch the hearing in an overflow room due to the killed in the Oak Creek shooting, followed award-wining interactive exhibition “1001 tremendous turnout—were in attendance. Johnson’s remarks with an emotional and Muslim Inventions” opened its doors to Durbin opened the hearing by stressing deeply moving testimony. “This was not audiences at the National Geographic Muits importance. While there have been supposed to be our American story. This seum in Washington, DC late this summer. dozens of hearings on the threat of Islamic was not my mother’s dream,” he said. “My The exhibition begins with a 10-minute terrorism, he noted, it has been years since a mother and father brought Kamal [and] me video starring English actor Sir Ben Kingshearing on violent domestic extremism has to America in 2004….Like many other im- ley as a librarian admonishing young been held. “We can’t ignore the threat of migrants, they wanted us to have a better British children on the provincialism of the homegrown non-Islamic terrorism,” the sen- life, a better education. More options. In the phrase, ‘Dark Ages.’ “It is a matter of perland of the free. In the land of ator stated. The hearing began with testimony from diversity. “I just had my first day of three representatives of the federal governcollege,” the young Sikh conment. Roy Austin, Jr., deputy assistant attorney tinued. “And my mother wasgeneral with the Department of Justice’s n’t there to send me off. She (DOJ) Civil Rights Division, affirmed his de- won’t be there for my graduapartment’s commitment to prosecuting hate tion. She won’t be there on my crimes. He noted that in fiscal year 2011, the wedding day. She won’t be able DOJ convicted 42 individuals on hate crime to meet her grandchildren….I want to tell the gunman who charges, the most in more than a decade. According to Michael Clancy, deputy as- took her from me: You may sistant director of the FBI’s Counterterror- have been full of hate, but my ism Division, there is a “persistent threat” mother was full of love. “The man who killed my of small-scale attacks by domestic terrorists. While law enforcement does monitor mother was on the watch lists known extremists groups, he said, the First of public interest groups. I beAmendment protects most of their activi- lieve the government could ties. “It is not enough to stop a terrorist. We have tracked him long before must do so while maintaining civil rights he went on a shooting spree… Senators, I know what hapand civil liberties,” he emphasized. Scott McAllister of the Department of pened at Oak Creek was not an Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Intelli- isolated incident. I fear it may gence and Analysis, stressed that federal law happen again if we don’t stand enforcement should work more closely with up and do something.” The clock created in 1206 by al-Jazari, a scholar, inventor, Saini also asked that Sikhs mechanical engineer, artist and mathematician. state and local authorities to prevent attacks. PHOTO BY H. SAIF

©THE SIKH COALITION PHOTO CREDIT: RUSSELL BRAMMER

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“1001 Muslim Inventions” will remain spective,” he advises, noting that Muslim and South Dakota’s Corn Palace (see p. 38on view in Washington, DC until Feb. 3, civilization was in its Golden Age at the 39). Women feature prominently throughout 2013 and, simultaneously, in Doha, Qatar time. —Hamzah Saif Stepping through the doors, the eye first the exhibit. As the stations introduce visi- until Nov. 12, 2012. catches a 20-foot replica of Muslim poly- tors to prominent Muslim women, an acmath Badi’al-Zaman al-Jazari’s clock, em- cented female voice rising from the ISNA Annual Convention: Striving for blematic of the breadth of cultures on “School” station permeates the exhibit: al- the Common Good which the exhibit draws. The elephant gebra from al-jebr; orange from naranj, and The Islamic Society of North America represents India, the carpet draped over its traffic from tafriq—Arabic roots of our (ISNA) held its 49th annual convention back Persia, the figures Arabia, the everyday vocabulary. Walking by the Aug. 31-Sept. 3 at the Walter E. Washingphoenix Egypt, and the dragons China— “World” station, one hears Fatima al-Fihri, ton Convention Center in Washington, DC. all synthesized by a Kurdish engineer in- founder of the oldest existing degree- With the theme of “One Nation Under awarding university, assert her contribu- God: Striving for the Common Good,” the novating Greek technology. The amalgam is a result of Arab expan- tions to the global knowledge. And from convention focused heavily on promoting sion in the centuries following the Prophet the “Universe” station across the hall, Mer- interfaith dialogue, the 2012 elections, and Muhammad’s death. The rapid spread of riam al-Ijliya patiently explains the multi- highlighting the patriotism of American Islam in its first centuries provided fertile ple uses of her intricate astrolabes. Muslims. This female motif is consistent with the fodder for invention and innovation. AsThe opening event, a panel discussion tronomy, mathematics, physics, literature exhibit’s thrust: a holistic, balanced view of on “Life and Religion: Interweaving Reliand medical sciences flourished as Arabs Islam and Muslim civilization. One walks gion and Life in a Moral Society,” turned combined their rich history with those of away happy to have experienced such a out to be the buzz of the convention. their new lands. From this trove of accu- drastically different take on the Muslim Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic mulated knowledge arose a great collection world than the unfortunate diatribes that Studies at George Washington University, of literary, philosophical and scientific pervade today’s news and media. stressed the need for Muslims to protect works that fundamentally altered the totality of creation. “We’re the course of history. performing mass suicide by The exhibit’s seven stations— denying the rights of the other home, school, market, hospital, creatures of God,” Nasr said. town, world and universe— “We are overemphasizing the highlight the depth of these conhuman state at the expense of tributions to our contemporary other creatures.” experience. Lamenting that “life has beThe “Home” station introcome cheap,” Georgetown Uniduces scientist Ibn al-Haytham, versity professor John Esposito whose innovative use of the pinpointed to the fact that males hole principle enabled modern within a certain age range are camera technology. More plepresumed to be enemy combatbeian inventions—soap, shamants when drone strikes are carpoo and toothbrushes—also find ried out. Esposito also observed their antecedent in Muslim innothat Islamophobia “is growing vation. rather than becoming invisible,” Featuring Ibn Sina, Al-Zahrawi and is now engaged in by mainand Ibn al-Nafis, the “Hospital” Rep. Keith Ellison (l) and Rev. Jim Wallis at ISNA. stream politicians. station offers a glimpse into the Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf urged rich contributions of Muslim Muslims “to define [themselves] physicians. Ibn al-Nafis was the as American,” noting that other first to correctly describe blood religious groups, such as circulation; Ibn Sina’s 10th cenCatholics, have also historically tury medical canons were stanstruggled to gain acceptance in dard texts in European universiAmerica. ties well into the 17th century; Zaid Shakir, an Islamic scholar and Al- Zahrawi’s 10th century and co-founder of Zaytuna Colsurgical innovations continue to lege, dismissed the notion that be used today. religion is the cause of much of The “Town” station highlights history’s wars and conflicts. the influence of Muslim architec“Historically nothing has pretural innovations—arches, domes served life on this planet better and minarets—on European dethan religion,” he said. Because signs. From the stately to the silly, religion is “rooted in realities Muslim architecture inspired the that transcend this world,” he design of buildings as different as said, it creates “unlimited human imperial England’s Royal Pavilion Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (l) and Rabbi David Saperstein. possibilities.” 56

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embracing individuals of other faiths. Rev. Jim Wallis, a Christian activist, and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim American elected to Congress, both embraced Cardinal McCarrick’s call for unity. Warning that “this nation has lost the common good,” Reverend Wallis stated that it is incumbent upon the religious to restore it. “There is a world out there for us to save,” Representative Ellison emphasized, urging the establishment of broadbased coalitions. —Dale Sprusansky

Diplomatic Doings Ambassadors Engage American Muslims

1999 transition to democracy, Djalal pointed out that “Islam and democracy went together quite naturally and easily” in Indonesia. Islam, democracy and modernity came to the world’s most populous Muslim nation “very very quickly,” he noted, and without “chaos or bloodshed.” On the topic of interfaith relations, Djalal called on moderates to more emphatically fight for peace and understanding. Moderates must “push back hard” against extremists in a “persuasive, passionate way,” the ambassador said. Qatar’s Ambassador to the U.S. Mohamed Bin Abdulla Al-Rumaihi stressed the importance of recent immigrants to the United States fully embracing their new nation. Some immigrants “keep talking about their

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At a Sept. 1 discussion on the upcoming elections, Azizah al-Hibri, a professor at the University of Richmond, decried the fact that “somehow the fringe has been able to frame [Muslims] as a political group rather than a religious group.” Such actions, she emphasized, “are not moves we can tolerate.” Nihad Awad, executive director and founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), charged the Obama administration with failing to deliver on issues important to the Muslim-American community. He specifically cited the president’s silence on civil rights violations, failure to close Guantanamo and frequent use of drones. Awad also issued a warning to Obama: “Muslim votes are not cheap and should not be taken for granted.” Turning to the Republicans, Awad scolded the party for its tolerance of Islamophobia. “There is a lack of leadership within the GOP to push back against Islamophobia,” he observed. Speaking at the Sept. 1 evening session, Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), expressed his sympathy for the Muslim- American community. He told the audience that he has heard from many Muslim Americans that they are “feeling as uneasy as any time since 9/11.” Perez assured attendees that the DOJ is “using every tool…to make sure you have access to equal opportunity.” Since 2000, he noted, the DOJ has pursued 31 cases in which mosques were discriminated against in local zoning processes. Disturbingly, Perez pointed out, 21 of these 31 cases have taken place within the last two years. He went on to compare modern-day Islamophobia to the Know-Nothing Party’s affront on Catholics in the 1800s, and predicted a better future for Muslims in America. Of the conference’s many interfaith events, the Sept. 2 dialogue with leaders of several faiths garnered the most attention. Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, urged Muslims and Jews—two groups frequently targeted by bigots—to unite in the fight against discrimination. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, called on all the religions to form a “united front” against the many issues—such as poverty—that plague our nation and our world. “We are not just neighbors…we are brothers and sisters,” Cardinal McCarrick said, cautioning the crowd against tepidly

(L-r) Ambassadors Sherry Rehman, Dr. Dino Patti Djalal, Mohamed Bin Abdulla Al-Rumaihi and Ebrahim Rasool discuss their Muslim faith. Representing the diversity of the Muslim world, the ambassadors to the U.S. of Pakistan, Indonesia, Qatar and South Africa participated in a Sept. 2 forum at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. The forum, part of the Islamic Society of North America’s (ISNA) 49th annual convention, was moderated by ISNA director of community outreach Mohamed Elsanousi. Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S. Sherry Rehman began by emphasizing the cultural and geographical diversity of the Islamic world. Expressing her fear that many in the West have a simplistic view of Muslims, Rehman pointed out that “the Muslim world is as varied as its believers.” The diplomat also challenged the notion that Islam and modernity are incompatible, saying that “Islam and democracy will always be intertwined.” Citing the Muslims of North America as evidence, Rehman said that they are “living proof that misconceptions are easily shattered.” Dr. Dino Patti Djalal, Indonesia’s ambassador to Washington, cited his own country’s experience as evidence of the compatibility between Islam and democracy. Despite the fears of many that Indonesia would become an Islamist state following its THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

old countries,” he said, and, to their detriment, fail to become engaged in important U.S. domestic issues. All immigrants ought to strive to “be truly American,” Al-Rumaihi added, and should not abuse their civil rights by isolating themselves from society. Ebrahim Rasool, South Africa’s ambassador to the U.S., elaborated on Ambassador Al-Rumaihi’s remarks by saying that immigrants should “reject assimilation and isolation” in favor of integration. Rasool, a member of South Africa’s Muslim minority, spoke at length about coping with diversity and “coming to grips with what it means to be a numeric minority...living where you do not make the rules.” He told the audience that living in a country where they do not make the rules strengthens their faith. While many Muslim-majority countries outlaw practices forbidden by Islam, American Muslims must confront temptation and rely on their moral compass, rather than the state, to remain sanctified. —Dale Sprusansky

Yemen’s President Addresses American Audience In a Sept. 28 address at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 57


Yemen’s President Rabbo Mansur al-Hadi discusses American drones, Yemen’s political transition and the Yemen-Saudi relationship. Washington, DC, Yemeni President Rabbo Mansur al-Hadi spoke warmly of his country’s military relationship with the United States. Noting the devastating impact terrorism has had on the stability of his country, Hadi called terrorism a “common threat regionally and internationally [that] requires and necessitates a common effort to fight.” President Hadi went on to offer what appeared to be an endorsement of American drone activity in Yemen. “Our air force… cannot carry out missions at night,” he said, noting that his country’s air force is composed of outdated 1970s Soviet fighter jets. Drones, he said, “pinpoint the target and have zero margin of error if you know exactly what target you are aiming at.” Hadi also lauded the U.S. for playing “the decisive role in extricating al-Qaeda from the [southern] provinces of Shabwah and Abyan.” Looking ahead, Hadi said that the U.S. can best assist Yemen—which is beset by economic, humanitarian, political and security crises—by providing economic aid. The president explained that “75 percent of the solution in Yemen is an economic solution.” Hadi also praised Saudi Arabia in his remarks, thanking the Kingdom for its economic assistance and the role it played in bringing about the GCC-brokered Yemeni transfer agreement in November of last year. The GCC agreement, which granted former President Ali Abdullah Saleh immunity in exchange for stepping down, “provided a political solution that helped and assisted the peaceful transition away from bloodshed,” he emphasized. President Hadi further demonstrated his country’s close affiliation with the Saudis by rebuking Iran. “The Iranians are seeking 58

a foothold in my country due to the strategic location of Yemen,” he said, claiming that his government has uncovered five Iranian spy networks operating within Yemen. He accused Tehran of “buying opposition figures and media features” in an effort to “thwart the political solution in Yemen.” With regard to domestic politics, Hadi expressed hope that his country’s upcoming national dialogue will heal long-standing political and social divides and provide “a blueprint for a prosperous Yemeni future.” If all goes well, Hadi said, he envisions the emergence of a “civil, modern state based on the rule of law and respect of all rights.” —Dale Sprusansky

Waging Peace Analyzing Muslim Film Protests Responding to the recent wave of protests across the Muslim world against the antiIslam film “Innocence of Muslims,” Georgetown University’s Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding held a Sept. 24 event titled, “The Prophet Muhammad and Geo-Politics: Déjà Vu All Over Again” at the school’s Washington, DC campus. Jonathan Brown, a professor of Islam and Muslim-Christian relations at Georgetown, began the discussion by noting how the protests highlight cultural misunderstanding. In the West, Brown pointed out, the protests solidified in the minds of many the PHOTO COURTESY THE PRINCE ALWALEED BIN TALAL CTR. FOR MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN UNDERSTANDING

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Professor John Voll describes the reaction to the anti-Islam film in the Muslim world and the West. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

idea of Muslims as angry people who are always enraged. Westerners tend to view Muslims as “emotional, child-like entities” who never seem to join the modern world, he noted. Such analysis, Brown argued, fails to comprehend the extreme degree to which insults against the Prophet Muhammad are off-limits and offensive in the Muslim world. “No country has absolute freedom of speech…there are always exceptions,” he noted, stressing the need to “recognize that each culture has its red lines.” Brown also noted that a “minuscule” number of Muslims took to the streets in response to the film. In the Muslim world, Brown continued, the protests revealed widespread misunderstanding of Western legal systems. Many Arabs and Muslims cannot understand why, for instance, pro-Nazi speech is restricted in many parts of Europe, but offensive anti-Muslim speech is protected. Many in the Muslim world struggle to understand the difference between governmental and private restrictions on speech, Brown explained. The Georgetown professor also criticized YouTube for refusing to remove the incendiary film from its Web site despite the fact that YouTube has a policy against hate speech. He found the Web site’s determination that the film does not violate its policy to be particularly curious, given the fact that the film’s creator has openly admitted his intent to offend Muslims. John Voll, professor of Islamic history at Georgetown, divided the Muslim world’s response to the film into three categories. He characterized the response in Cairo and Khartoum as “the Rodney King response.” In these cities, Voll noted, there are a large number of unemployed and discontented young men “just sitting around.” The film served as “a catalyst that crystallized their discontent around a particular issue,” he said. Voll also ventured to guess that any individual with money could use this young “floating mobilizing population” to start a protest for just about any cause. Likening the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi to the 1999 anti-World Trade Organization (WTO) protests in Seattle, Voll categorized the Libyan reaction as the “Battle in Seattle” mode. As was the case with the anti-WTO protests, he pointed out, extremists exploited the semi-organized antifilm rally in Benghazi as a cover to carry out their violent attack. The third type of demonstration, Voll said, was the kind carried out by well-established groups such as Hezbollah. Unlike NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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Former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter appeared at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC on Sept. 25 to reflect on his tenure in Pakistan and offer his thoughts on the future of U.S.-Pakistan relations. Munter stepped down from his post in Islamabad this past summer after two years on the job and has retired from the foreign service. Munter began by highlighting the two narratives he said define and hinder U.S.Pakistan relations. The Pakistani narrative, he said, maintains that “America uses Pakistan for its own needs and then discards Pakistan.” On the other hand, he noted, many Americans complain that “We give these guys [Pakistan] tons of money and every time they betray us.” Following the end of the nine-year Pervez Musharraf regime in 2008, Munter noted, leaders in the U.S. made a strong attempt to quash these two debilitating narratives through the passage of the “The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009.” The bill authorized $7.5 billion in civilian aid to Pakistan over the course of five years, he said, and aimed to “build the capacity of the provincial governments” by channeling half of its money through Pakistani government agencies. While Washington hoped the bill would be a way to balance short-term U.S. counterterrorism needs “with a commitment to the long-term stability of Pakistan,” Munter said that, after three years, it clearly has failed to achieve its objectives. In his opinion, this failure is due to “the inability of the Pakistani state to be the vehicle of this assistance. It was not strong enough or able enough to do what the Americans had hoped it could do.” Even if the bill were successful, Munter doubts it would have stabilized the tumultuous year of 2011, when U.S.-Pakistan relations were in a state of seemingly perpetual crisis. Citing the January jailing of CIA contractor Raymond Davis for killing two men in Lahore, Munter said this incident “hurt those people who had committed most to [the U.S.]” because it offered strong NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

PHOTO COURTESY CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE

U.S. Ambassador Munter Reflects On His Time in Pakistan

cused on issues such as energy and water, he argued. The U.S. must seek to build relations with Pakistani businesspeople, media and NGOs, he emphasized, describing these people as “the most dynamic partners that America can have.” —Dale Sprusansky

Persian Gulf Politics

Ambassador Cameron Munter recalls the many crises he faced during his ambassadorship in Pakistan. evidence that the U.S. was doing things behind the backs of the Pakistanis. The May raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound served to further harm those working closely with the Americans, the retired ambassador said. The November border incident in which U.S.-led NATO forces opened fire on Pakistani security forces at two checkpoints along the Afghan border solidified 2011 as a year of failed bilateral relations. Senior members of the Pakistani core commanders believed the incident occurred “on purpose to teach [Pakistan] a lesson,” Munter told the audience, adding that, for him, 2011 “was like rolling down the side of a ravine…you hit the cactus, you hit the rocks, and then you just keep going.” Munter concluded by stressing the need to redefine, not fix, the relationship. It must evolve from a bilateral relationship focused on counterterrorism to a multilateral one fo-

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC held a Sept. 28 discussion on “Iran, Iraq, and the GCC: New Realities in Persian Gulf Security.” Cornell University professor David Siddhartha Patel began by addressing the nature of the Iran-Iraq relationship. Iran’s influence in Iraq has long been overestimated, he said, and is currently declining. Patel said that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is “not too sympathetic to Iran” and dismissed the notion that he and the Iranian leadership have a similar world view simply because they share the Shi’i faith. Ultimately, he argued, Iraq views Iran as “neither an ally nor an adversary.” University of South Florida professor Mohsen Milani agreed with Patel that Iran and Iraq are not close allies, but cautioned that his colleague underestimated the extent to which Iran used the U.S. occupation of Iraq to gain influence in the country. Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Milani said, Iran’s goal was to “establish a friendly Shi’i-dominated government” strong enough to maintain Iraq’s territorial integrity but “not strong enough to challenge Iran militarily.” According to Milani, Tehran has achieved its goal. Since the December 2010 U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, Milani said, Iran has “substantially increased its actions [in Iraq] to solidify its gains.” He also noted that “Iraq has become Iran’s second largest trade partner.” While Iran has been able to gain a larger foothold in Iraq, Milani said, Iraq does not take orders from Tehran. Indeed, he argued

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the first two categories, he noted, these protests received very little attention in the West because they were “dull” and did not reinforce stereotypes of the Muslim world. In contrast to the urban discontent displayed in Egypt and Sudan, Voll described these demonstrations as a peaceful “mobilization of an existing organization.” —Dale Sprusansky

(L-r) Prof. David Patel, Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Prof. Mohsen Milani discuss changing Iran-Iraq relations. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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that Iraq is playing Iran and the U.S. against each other and “seeks to be dependent on neither one.” For this reason, he concluded, neither Iran nor the U.S. can rely on Iraq as a strategic partner. University of Vermont professor F. Gregory Gause questioned the premise that the Iraqi state is strong enough to assert its own foreign policy. The Middle East is in the midst of a cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Gause opined, one which is “being fought in the domestic politics of states that are domestically weak” and unable to govern their own territory. According to Gause, these states are Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Because the U.S. invasion resulted in Iraq becoming a playing field rather than a player, Gause described Prime Minister Maliki’s top priority as solidifying his power domestically to ensure that he remains the prime minister. Once this process is completed, the professor said, Maliki will turn his attention to building up the strength of the Iraqi state. “We are not there yet,” Gause cautioned. Despite the fact that many have framed the Iran-Saudi cold war as a sectarian dispute, Gause argued instead the two countries are engaged in a power struggle and simply exploit sectarian divides to their advantage. —Dale Sprusansky

Saudi Arabia’s Challenges While the street protests of the Arab Awakening never made their way to Saudi Arabia, David Ottaway, a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, believes that the Kingdom faces a wide array of potentially destabilizing challenges. At a Sept. 17 event held at the Wilson Center’s Washington, DC offices titled “Saudi Arabia’s Race Against Time,” Ottaway outlined what he views as the greatest threats to Saudi stability. In Ottaway’s opinion, the greatest challenge currently facing the Kingdom is the lack of jobs for college-educated Saudis— many of whom are American-educated. While previous generations of university graduates had jobs waiting for them in the government, Ottaway noted that this is no longer the case. A further complication is the fact that there is little opportunity for employment in the Saudi private sector, Ottaway said, noting that the country’s private sector strongly prefers to hire foreigners who will work longer hours for less pay. Indeed, Ottaway pointed out that for every nine foreigners, the private sector employs one Saudi. Saudi authorities, aware that unemployment for recent graduates is becoming a 60

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David Ottaway gives his views on the challenges faced by Saudi Arabia. problem (as it is in the United States), are actively encouraging the private sector to hire more Saudi citizens, Ottaway said, adding that the Kingdom hopes Saudi citizens will soon comprise 10-37 percent of the private sector workforce. In order for this goal to be achieved, he said, the private sector will need to create 250,000 to 300,000 jobs a year. According to Ottaway, unemployment also is an issue among the broader population. In an effort to “counter the effects of the Arab Awakening,” he noted, in late 2011 the government launched a subsidy program for the unemployed. While authorities believed that around 450,000 Saudis were unemployed, Ottaway said that two million people ended up applying for unemployment benefits—85 percent of whom were women, he added. One million applicants met the necessary criteria and are now enrolled in the program, he said. On another topic, Ottaway said social networking is “becoming huge” in the country. While Saudi clerics have traditionally been opposed to new technology, Ottaway said, “the conservative religious element is taking to the Internet.” Indeed, he noted, social clerics have by far the most followers on Facebook and Twitter. Ottaway believes that “the government’s going to have to keep on its toes” in order to stay ahead of changing dynamics within the Kingdom. —Dale Sprusansky

Libya’s Security Situation In the wake of the horrific killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi on Sept. 11, several events were held in Washington, DC to discuss Libya’s troubled security situation. Speaking at the Johns Hopkins University’s Washington, DC campus on Sept. 18, Atlantic Council senior fellow Karim THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Mezran said that in order to understand Libya’s current security environment, one must reflect upon the “two original sins of the revolution.” The first, he said, was the portrayal of Muammar Qaddafi’s ouster as being organic. Without NATO’s intervention, Mezran said, Qaddafi’s reign would not have come to an end. The scholar cited as the second sin the false perception that all Libyans opposed Qaddafi and had joined the uprising. At a Sept. 13 Atlantic Council event, Mezran cautioned that misunderstanding how Qaddafi fell is dangerous, because it camouflages the country’s civil war as a simple revolution. Such an approach makes reintegration and reconciliation impossible, he said, since the imperativeness of such exercises go unacknowledged. Furthermore, Mezran argued, failure to recognize that a small-scale civil war took place resulted in the country excluding Qaddafi sympathizers and other marginalized groups from the nation-building process. This exclusion, he warned, can result in further violence and extremism. Indeed, at the Johns Hopkins event, Mezran pointed out that there were signs leading up to the Sept. 11 consulate attack that marginalized groups were resorting to violence. Car bombings, attacks on Libyan army officers, a Salafi attack on a Sufi shrine in Tripoli and the explosion of a bomb outside the U.S. mission in Benghazi in June all demonstrated instability, particularly in the east, Mezran said. At a Sept. 26 event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie senior associate Frederic Wehrey further elaborated on the sense of marginalization some Salafi elements in Libya feel. Describing the Sept. 11 attack as a “symptom of the fracturing of the Salafi movement,” he noted that those Salafis who refused to enter the Libyan political arena have resorted to violence “to make [their] voices heard.” These Salafis, Wehrey said, have “failed to gain traction” and are “flailing [about] for relevance in the society.” Also speaking at the Carnegie event, Fadel Lamen, president of the American Libyan Council, warned that if Libya’s new government does not develop “a multipronged strategy to deal with [marginalized] groups,” they could form alliances with al-Qaeda and other extremists. Aside from Salafi discontent, Wehrey said that the way in which Libya’s transitional government (the National Transitional Council, or NTC) opted to manage security kept weapons in the hands of a wide-range of actors. The NTC “relied upon the miliNOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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(L-r) Carnegie’s Frederic Wehrey and Marina Ottaway, and American Libyan Council’s Fadel Lamen describe the problems facing Libya’s government. tias…to keep order,” he pointed out. With their own headquarters, armories and payrolls, militias have the capability to carry out an attack “within an hour’s notice,” Wehrey said. At the Atlantic Council, Esam Omeish, director of the Libyan Emergency Task Force, offered suggestions for how the Libyan government should confront the challenges posed by militias and extremists. First and foremost, he said, the government must become proactive in addressing violent acts of extremism. In addition, Omeish said, the “multifaceted, complex and interconnected problem” of radicals infiltrating the security and law enforcement apparatuses must be addressed. In order to devise a successful militia strategy, Omeish emphasized that the Libyan government must accurately determine how many militias there are and the identities of their leaders. —Marwan Ayad and Dale Sprusansky

Regional Dynamics of the Syrian Crisis The Middle East Institute (MEI) and the Institute for Turkish Studies at Georgetown University co-hosted a Sept. 27 event titled “Turkey and the Regional Dynamics of the Syrian Crisis” at Georgetown’s Washington,

DC campus. Gonul Tol, director of MEI’s Center for Turkish Studies, moderated the panel discussion. Mona Yacoubian, a senior adviser at the Stimson Center, began by discussing the U.S.-Turkey relationship regarding Syria. While the two NATO countries see eye to eye “on broader strategic imperatives” and share the belief that Assad must go, Yacoubian said, they “differ substantially” on many specifics. She noted, for instance, that Ankara desires the establishment of a safe haven for Syrian refugees in northern Turkey, while the U.S. and U.N. have opposed such a move. This disagreement is “a growing area of tension between the two countries,” Yacoubian acknowledged. Denise Natali of the National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies noted the important role the Kurds are playing in the Syrian conflict. The PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), which the Turkish government considers a terrorist group, has taken advantage of the crisis by establishing its presence in Kurdish areas abandoned by Assad’s troops, she pointed out. Because the areas the PKK is now administering are along the Turkish border in northeast Syria, Natali explained, Ankara is concerned that the PKK will be able to con-

solidate power in the region as the crisis drags on. However, Natali noted, many Syrian Kurds are growing increasingly concerned that the PKK and the Assad regime, which until last year denied Kurds Syrian citizenship, have formed too close a relationship. The PKK now faces the challenge of effectively administering the areas it controls, she added, warning that the PKK “may shoot themselves in the foot” and fail to deliver goods and services to the satisfaction of local residents. While the PKK has acted strategically in Syria, Natali pointed out that it is hardly the only Kurdish actor to do so. She cited Massoud Barzani, president of Iraqi Kurdistan, as actively “trying to reel in the Syrian Kurds.” Barzani played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Syrian Kurdish National Congress (KNC), a “conglomeration of 16 very fragmented Kurdish groups,” she noted, adding that Barzani and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are so eager to gain influence among the Syrian Kurds that they are paying leaders $10,000 a month to remain in the KNC. However, Natali noted, Barzani’s close relationship with Ankara has caused his popularity in Syria to decline. An overview of the Kurdish situation in Syria shows just how fragmented the ethnic group is and the extent to which the crisis is “pitting Kurds against Kurds,” Natali stated. Thus, while the conflict presents a major strategic opportunity for Syrian Kurds, internal divisions may result in the Kurds losing out from the crisis, she concluded. With regard to the Syria-Turkey relationship, Omer Taspinar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, noted that the Syrian civil war has caused Turkey to discover “the limits of its influence.” Prior to the civil war, he explained, Ankara naively believed it could push the Assad regime toward reform. Now that the relationship between the two nations has deteriorated, Taspinar said, the Turks believe Assad and the Iranians are using the PKK as a “way of getting back at Turkey.” —Dale Sprusansky

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American Syrians Raise Funds for Humanitarian Aid

(L-r) Denise Natali, Omer Taspinar, Gonul Tol and Mona Yacoubian discuss the impact of the Syrian crisis on Turkey and the Kurds. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

American Syrians launched a weekend of fund-raisers to address emergency humanitarian and medical needs of hundreds of thousands of civilians injured in the ongoing conflict in Syria. A fund-raiser at the Auburn Marriott in Pontiac, Michigan, north of Detroit, on Friday, Sept. 14 raised nearly $300,000, as did 61


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(L-r) Dr. Abdul Ghani Sankri-Tarbichi, vice president of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS National), U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), and Dr. Amjad Rass, president of the Syrian Sunrise Foundation.

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Syria Walkathon More than 700 people turned out Sept. 8 at the Huntington Beach pier in Los Angeles to walk for the children of Syria. It was one of 21 such fund-raisers staged that day in cities across the U.S. under auspices of the Syrian American Council, UNICEF and Rise 4 Humanity. Funds were raised by the sale of “Walk for Children of Syria” Tshirts. Signs carried by chanting marchers

watch as the carnage of civilians continues in cities across Syria,” said Dr. Malaz Alatassi, who lost a brother at the beginning of the Syrian conflict last year. Alatassi, a member of the two sponsoring organizations, painted a dire portrait of the growing tragedy, noting that more than 30,000 civilians have been killed and more than 50,000 children orphaned. The event drew a wide range of support from outside the American Syrian community, including from such other prominent American Arab leaders as Detroit attorney Joumana Kayrouz and attorney Steven Lagana, both of More than 700 people took part in the Walk for Children of whom contributed gen- Syria at Huntington Beach on Sept. 8. erously to the evening’s fund-raising drive. and even by toddlers in strollers helped to “This is a humanitarian crisis that tran- inform beachgoers of the carnage taking scends nationalities and religions and re- place in Syria. —Samir Twair quires that we all stand together to help civilians in desperate need,” Kayrouz said. Eyewitness to Aleppo Carnage The keynote speaker for the evening was Returning Sept. 21 from a one-week medthe French artist Roger Dale, who replicated ical relief mission to Aleppo was Dr. Ziyad Picasso’s famous mural “Guernica,“ depict- Kattih, a Glendora pain management speing the carnage following a famous 1937 cialist. He was accompanied on his mission Spanish Civil War battle. The mural became to deliver $10,000 worth of medical instruthe icon that rallied support against Spain’s ments and medicines by Omar Chamaa. fascist government of the time. Their trip was co-sponsored by the Syrian “Franco tried to destroy the city of Guer- American Medical Society (SAMS) and the nica in 1937,” Dale explained. “He sought Syrian American Council (SAC). the help of Hitler, who sent the Luftwaffe in The pair flew to Turkey, where they met STAFF PHOTO SAMIR TWAIR

Sept. 15 and 16 fund-raisers in Chicago Sept. 15 and Cleveland, respectively. Community leaders working through the charitable organizations the Syrian Sunrise Foundation and the Syrian American Medical Society expressed gratitude to members of the U.S. Congress and the administration of President Barack Obama for offering support. Michigan Congressman John Conyers, Jr. spoke at the Detroit event, vowing that protecting Syrian civilians from military assaults by that nation’s government was a “priority” in Washington, DC that is gaining more and more support. “Congress plans on dealing with this crisis in Syria as quickly as we can,” Conyers told the more than 400 people at the Detroit event, promising that he and others will meet with the president to discuss the growing humanitarian crisis. “Something needs to be done. This is a tragedy that is being replicated in other places. We have to do more. We cannot stand idly by.” Conyers said he was shocked by reports that the Syrian government of Bashar alAssad was attacking medical field stations set up to handle the increasing number of victims in the conflict. U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) issued a strong statement through spokesperson Melanie Tesolin expressing his support of the efforts of American Syrians. Throughout the evening, American Syrian leaders also expressed sorrow for the needless killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. “We love America but we are also proud of our heritage. We cannot stand by and

April 1937 that bombarded and strafed the city until it was in ruins and thousands were killed and injured.” Picasso’s mural, Dale said, helped to prevent the massacre from being unnoticed or forgotten by the world. Dale was joined by two of the dozens of students who worked to create the replica, renamed “Guernica 1937-Homs 2012,” and placed on display at the fund-raiser through the Ecole Superieure des Arts Decoratifs de Strasbourg. The mural, Dale said, “will one day hang on display in the free city of Homs and will symbolize how the world came together to help the people of Syria.” —Ray Hanania

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cluded Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman, former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, George Stifo of the Syrian National Council, Syrian pianist/composer Malek Jandali and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The event was sponsored by the Association of Iranian Americans of New York and New Jersey and other Iranian-American communities and by the Syrian American Council. —Samir Twair

Quakers Divest from HewlettPackard, Veolia Environment

Dr. Ziyad Kattih. with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), under whose protection they were escorted to Aleppo. “The destruction of rebel-held Aleppo is shocking.” Dr. Kattih said. “It is 10 times worse than any images we’ve seen on TV. It reminded me of photos of bombed-out Berlin after World War II.” Aleppo suburbs and 35 percent of the city are without clean water, Dr. Kattih stated, adding that government bombing missions have rendered sewage systems inoperable. Half of Aleppo is without electricity, which occasionally works no more than two hours a day, forcing many hospitals to rely on generators. Schools are closed. Dr. Kattih observed men with the FSA’s al-Ansar and al-Tawheed brigades handling health care, medical needs and sanitation for the civilian population. Medical students assist in field hospitals. The FSA also cooks at least one meal a day for the hungry—generally consisting of bulgar and macaroni—and bakes bread, for which residents stand in line for up to four hours. The California physician witnessed the city being shelled by government forces during the day and Syrian jets indiscriminately dropping bombs in post-midnight and early morning raids. —Samir Twair

Iranian Americans and Syrian Americans from all parts of the U.S. traveled by car, rail, bus and air to New York City to protest the Sept. 26 speech of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the U.N. General Assembly. Speakers on the platform inNOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

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Thousands Protest Ahmadinejad

Friends Fiduciary Corporation, an investment firm serving over 300 Quaker institutions in the U.S., has dropped its holdings in Hewlett-Packard and Veolia Environment. The two multinational corporations are the focus of a global divestment and boycott movement that charges them with supporting Israel’s 45-year-old military occupation of the Palestinian territories. Hewlett-Packard was removed from Friends Fiduciary’s investments because it provides IT consulting services to the Israeli Navy, said Jeffery W. Perkins, executive director of Friends Fiduciary. Veolia Environment, the world’s largest water privatization company, was removed because of “environmental and social concerns.” According to Global Exchange, Veolia provides segregated water and transportation services to Israeli settlers living illegally in the occupied Palestinian territories. In April 2012, Friends Fiduciary was also the first investment firm in the U.S. to remove Caterpillar Corporation from its list of socially responsible corporations. Morgan Stanley Capital Investment downgraded the

company’s SR rating this spring, and TIAACREF in June dropped Caterpillar from its Social Choice Fund. “We Ann Arbor Quakers asked the Friends Fiduciary Corporation to divest from these companies because we don’t want to support corporations whose products are used in gross human rights violations carried out by the Israeli military in its occupation of the Palestinian territories,” said spokeswoman Anne Remley. “HewlettPackard makes products used by the Israeli navy, which enforces the illegal blockade of Gaza. Caterpillar bulldozers are weaponized and used to destroy Palestinian homes and agricultural land, and to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian land. And Veolia builds transportation systems used to transport Jewish settlers between those settlements and Israel. We’re pleased that the Friends Fiduciary Corporation is no longer involved with these endeavors." The action of Friends Fiduciary in dropping these three firms marks a significant breakthrough in the global campaign to hold corporations accountable for supporting Israel’s human rights and international law violations in the Palestinian territories. We hope it will inspire other people of faith and conscience to follow suit. —Courtesy Ann Arbor Friends

L.A. Renews Veolia Contract

Despite months of demonstrations and protests against renewing the city’s contract with the French firm Veolia, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously agreed to the five-year, $160 million contract by voting Sept. 19 on the Consent calendar with automatic approval. The controversial contract grants Veolia—which operates buses for Jews only from Jerusalem to illegal settlements on the West Bank—the right to continue running DASH shuttle buses in Los Angeles. According to activist Sherna Gluck, 15 members of the Dump Veolia L.A. Coalition were on hand at the Sept. 19 City Council meeting, but were told they couldn’t voice their opinions during the general public comment period. Nonetheless, seven coalition members did speak and made key points against Veolia’s At a Sept. 26 protest outside U.N. headquarters in New York City, Syr- apartheid practices on the ocian Americans hold a sign imploring Iranian President Mahmoud Ah- cupied West Bank. madinejad to stop supporting Syria’s Bashar Assad. —Pat McDonnell Twair THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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the ads, which New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) refused to approve earlier this year, until a federal court, citing the First Amendment, ruled that the MTA had to run the ads. The ads come just as the international backlash provoked by the film “Innocence of Muslims,” Dump Veolia L.A. Coalition holds a press conference after the L.A. mocking the City Council agreed Sept. 19 to renew the $160 million contract with Prophet Muhamno public discussion. mad, dies down. The film supposedly Two Ad Campaigns: One Urging was financed by a former gas station Hate, The Other Tolerance owner, Basseley Nakoula, an EgyptianAnti-Muslim ads which ran in New York American Coptic Christian, who served subways and San Francisco’s BART trains time for check fraud and is now in jail and buses are coming to Washington, DC’s again for violating the terms of his probaMetro system. The ads read: “In Any War tion. Just who really bankrolled the film is Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, still under investigation (see story p. 13). The ad campaign, the latest in a series of Support the Civilized Man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” The Star of David illustrates efforts to incite hatred for Islam and support for Israel, was created and funded by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), founded by Pamela Geller of the group Stop Islamization of America. Much to everyone’s surprise, according to DC activist Mai Abdul Rahman, Geller’s antiMuslim ads have brought “the best of our faith and non-faith communities together, whether in San Francisco, NY or here in DC.” In response to a letter from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), the Asian Law Caucus and other organizations, San Francisco’s MTA agreed to donate all proceeds from the Geller advertisement to educational activities of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and SF transport put out a strongly worded disclaimer that lays out their position. In New York, pro-peace and pro-Muslim ads urging tolerance, sponsored by Rabbis for Human Rights, Sojourners and United Methodist Women, have been placed next to Geller’s hateful ads. The Jewish ad reads: “In the choice between love and hate CHOOSE LOVE. Help stop bigotry against our Muslim neighbors.” The Christian ad reads: “Love Your Muslim Neighbors.” In DC, the InterFaith Conference (IFC) of Metropolitan Washington, which repre64

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

sents Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Jewish, Latter-day Saints, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Sikh and Zoroastrian faith communities, issued a press release calling on the DC Metro system to place a counter ad. On Oct. 4 the U.S. District Court heard arguments urging a delay in posting Geller’s ads, calling them hate speech, but the request was turned down by Rosemary Collyer, a federal judge. Geller’s chilling and racist ads are scheduled to appear in the Capital area’s underfunded Metro system beginning Oct. 8. Soon after that, we hope to see a flood of ads urging peace and tolerance. —Delinda C. Hanley

French Author Alain Gresh Alain Gresh, editor of Le Monde diplomatique, spoke at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Beirut on Sept. 18 to an audience which included 120 members of the international group Not to Forget Sabra and Shatila Committee, visiting Lebanon to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the massacre. Gresh’s talk, entitled, “Israeli Impunity From International Law” was organized by the Beirut branch of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies. “Some people say I’m pro-Palestinian,” the Coptic-Cairo-born French author began. “I’m not. I don’t think Palestinians are better than anyone else. I just think that international law should protect Palestinians, like it should protect everyone else.” The Sabra and Shatila massacres 30 years ago were just one of many massacres, war crimes and crimes against humanity for which Israel has never been held accountable, Gresh continued. At least early on, soon after the Sabra and Shatila massacres, there were Israeli protests, the Kahan Commission, and a big debate within Israeli society. Now, he added, there is little debate when Israel invades Gaza, employs a punishing blockade or commits another war crime. Somehow Israelis don’t feel so guilty because they say, they are a “democratic state,” Gresh noted, but from the point of view of the guy who is killed or bombed by a “democratic” Israeli plane or a cluster bomb it doesn’t change anything. Just because the seven-year war against Algeria was waged by a French democracy, Gresh argued, it doesn’t absolve France. The Allied powers who fought in World War II decided to try to use international law to protect civilians and civilian property during wartime. After the Sept. 11 attacks and the launch of a “war on terror,” NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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ANERA president and CEO Bill Corcoran described the charity’s success in delivering goods to the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon, including more than 30 containers full of antibiotics, hospital supplies, wheelchairs, and other badly needed supplies. Corcoran highlighted the successful efforts of (L-r) Alessandra Capone, Alain Gresh and ACRPS researcher three honorees, including Saker Abu Fakher in Beirut, Lebanon. TOMS Shoes, which last neoconservative Harvard legal scholar year teamed up with ANERA for a multiAlan Dershowitz argued that ”the laws of year project to donate brand-new pairs of war and the rules of morality must adapt shoes to thousands of preschoolers in Gaza. Basem and Muna Hishmeh, who have to these [new] realities.” Today, Gresh said, Israel and Western helped hundreds of Palestinian children countries feel justified in disregarding in- study classical and Arabic music and ternational law and killing civilians in dance, have now tasked ANERA to help countries they deem “backwards” because build public parks and playgrounds those people “only understand the lan- throughout Palestine. The first park, guage of violence.” This is a fantastic step where children and parents can relax in backward, he warned, “a return to the green spaces, opened in Ramallah in July colonial vision of the world,” where law is of this year. Through ANERA, the third honoree, only for “civilized people.” People now believe they can absolve themselves of bar- Najjad Zeenni, has funded the creation of baric acts by saying “the other” is not a two academic departments, the ITT Center human being, but “a terrorist,” “uncivi- of Excellence at Birzeit University, which lized” or because “they don’t understand opened in 2008, and the engineering school at Al Quds University, which will the rules.” It is catastrophic if this is to become the open this winter of 2012. Three local actors portrayed some of the norm in international law, Gresh concluded, because brute force will replace Palestinian young people ANERA donors have helped. Salma Shaw played a young the rule of law and justice. —Delinda C. Hanley mother who lives in a hut in the Nahr elBared refugee camp in Lebanon. Thanks to ANERA Donors Inspired by “Faces of ANERA’s project with Johnson & Johnson, the Future” her children were tested and treated for American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) parasites. Matthew Kacergis told the audiheld its annual dinner on Oct. 5 at the Re- ence how his life had changed after receivnaissance Washington Hotel. Guests were ing vocational training and learning to bedeeply moved by the fund-raiser’s theme, “Faces of the Future: Meeting the Needs of the Children Who Inspire ANERA’s Work.” PalestinianAmerican comedian and CNN commentator Dean Obeidallah proved to be a skillful master of ceremonies, mixing earnest appeals for donations “to build a sustainable future for future generations of Palestinians” with side-splitting humor. After the screening of ANERA’s film, “I Want to Be...,” starring bright-eyed young Palestinian children sharing their dreams for the future, a slideshow of images of children from refugee camps in the ANERA’s Bill Corcoran (c) with honorees Muna Basem Hishmeh. Middle East ran during dinner. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

come a plumber. Katja Volker explained how she and her grandfather love working in their family’s new home garden and how now, thanks to their vegetable plot, her stomach doesn’t growl as much during class. Ambassador Edward Gnehm, chairman of ANERA’s board, concluded the evening by giving thanks to ANERA donors for their “overwhelming generosity” and for helping “children who deserve a chance for a better life.” Thanks as well to Dr. Salah El-Askari and his wife, Catherine, long-time Washington Report Angels, for hosting this reporter and other activists at their ANERA table. —Delinda C. Hanley

Sen. Tom Harkin Speaks at Des Moines Peace Sculpture Dedication Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) delivered an emphatic call for peace in a Sept. 24 address at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC). “After so many disastrous and counterproductive wars—Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the proxy wars, need I mention Chile, Argentina, the Central American wars of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala, and there’s probably some I haven’t thought of—you’d think that after that maybe now is the time to do the right thing and give peace a chance, rather than war,” said Harkin. Harkin, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and on its defense, and state, foreign operations, and related programs subcommittees, both cautioned and encouraged the audience of some 250 people gathered on a perfect early fall day for the dedication of the Path of Peace sculpture at DMACC’s Urban Campus. “Yet there are powerful voices that are pushing us right now toward a war with Iran. Make no mistake about it, they are pushing us toward a war with Iran,” warned Harkin, whose career total of $552,950 in pro-Israel PAC contributions is higher than any other member of Congress except Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), who has received a whopping $729,937. “That is why peace activists like all of you are so valuable,” the senator went on to declare. “Peace is a constant striving for justice in social, economic, and human rights; it’s not just the absence of war,” said the Vietnam-era Navy pilot who actively supported legislation that created the and United States Institute of Peace in 1986. 65


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“We all have blood on our hands for sending these young men to do our dirty work. Some of them come back forever changed, harmed by what we have asked them to do. It’s too easy for us to wave the flag, ignore, and look away. We need to take responsibility to learn the truth. Bradley did his part to share the truth, and what have we done? We’ve locked him away. It’s shameful,” said Caponi. “We’re trying to send a message to President Obama, who needs to stand behind Sen. Tom Harkin (l) at the Sept. 24 dedication of the Path of Peace sculpture at the Des his campaign promises of a more open government instead of locking up whistleMoines Area Community College’s Urban Campus. blowers,” said VFP Chapter 163 president Gilbert Landolt. “We always have money for another Iowa Statehouse in the late 1880s. Other speakers included DMACC Urban Those in the military who authorized weapons system, but we scratch to try to get enough money for the United States In- Campus Provost Laura Douglas, DMACC Manning’s torture during his nine months stitute of Peace, to get enough scholarships President Rob Denson, and DMACC Stu- of incarceration in solitary confinement for young people. But we can’t give up,” dent Activities Council President Eva San- under cruel and inhuman conditions at the doval. DMACC voice student Mary Chuol, U.S. Marine Corps brig in Quantico, VA Harkin said. Rev. Chet Guinn, who spoke on behalf of from South Sudan, sang a song about giv- should be held accountable for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice the Iowa Peace Monument Committee, rec- ing thanks in her native language, Nuer. Sponsors of the sculpture include Iowa said Landolt. He delivered a letter describognized many committee members and their work on behalf of peace and social jus- Peacemakers Monument, Inc., DMACC ing Manning as an American truth-teller to tice. Recalling the words of a former presi- Urban Campus, the Des Moines City Coun- representatives of the Obama campaign in dent who spoke at Drake University in Des cil, and the Iowa State Department of Trans- Des Moines. —Michael Gillespie “I feel like Bradley Manning is a hero,” Moines recently, he said: “A few days ago, portation. said Ed Bloomer, VFP Chapter 163 coformer President Jimmy Carter gave an anfounder. Bloomer said he considered the swer to a student’s question with these VFP and Friends Vigil for Bradley disclosure of secrets Manning is alleged to words: ‘It takes more courage to preserve Manning in Des Moines peace than it does to go to war.’” Members and friends of Veterans for Peace have provided to the whistleblower Web Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, a leader (VFP) Central Iowa Chapter 163 gathered to site Wikileaks—including the video “Colin the international Mayors for Peace organi- vigil in support of accused whistle-blower lateral Murder,” showing the killing of 11 zation, spoke about peace as a local issue. PFC Bradley Manning in front of Obama Iraqi civilians by U.S. attack helicopters— While attending an event with other mayors, campaign headquarters in Des Moines on is more important than the Pentagon Papers. “I’m out here because what Manning Cownie said, where he was seated beside the Sept. 6. mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he was “I’m out here in support of a political did took a lot of courage,” explained Julie challenged by a member of the press who prisoner, an American hero who showed Brown, a member of Occupy Des Moines. asked him why the mayor of Des Moines, IA great courage in exposing war crimes,” said “It was his duty under the Code of Conwas concerned about world peace. Iowa peace activist Mary Caponi, who duct. I think President Obama needs to set “Let me ask you something,” Cownie credited her father, a WWII veteran, and him free immediately.” Tom Schmitz, a member of the Des replied. “If you turn to the mayor sitting mother for helping shape her views about Moines Catholic Worker and an associate next to me, and you ask him, ‘Is peace, is war and war crimes. member of VFP, noted that war war, is bombing, is nuclear atpropaganda has blinded many tack a local issue?’ What do you Americans to injustices perpethink he will say?” trated in their names in the U.S. “It’s all local,” the Des Moines and abroad, and has put some mayor declared. groups, especially Muslims, at Path of Peace sculptor Ron risk. “We need people like Dinsdale discussed his vision of Bradley Manning to speak the peace, informed by his experitruth,” he said. ence as a Vietnam-era veteran The vigil was one of many and an Iowa high school teacher, local actions across the nation and the work that went into the organized in solidarity with and creation of the Path of Peace support of the VFP national orsculpture. ganization and the Bradley ManDinsdale said he created the ning Support Network, Landolt 17-foot-tall sculpture out of a single 14-ton block of Indiana Members and friends of Veterans for Peace Chapter 163 gather in said. This reporter is an associate Bedford limestone—the same front of Obama campaign headquarters to vigil in support of Pri- member of Veterans For Peace. —Michael Gillespie material used to construct the vate Bradley Manning. 66

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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Other People’s Mail Compiled by Dale Sprusansky and Marwan Ayad

News Coverage of Protests To The Cincinnati Enquirer, Sept. 19, 2012 There were two articles with pictures of protesters in Sunday’s Enquirer on pages A6 and A7, titled “Investigating Libyan siege won’t be fast, easy for U.S.” and “AlQaeda calls for more attacks on embassies.” There was also another small article, with no picture, on page A6 titled “Some Libyans express sorrow over killings.” I wish the media would give peaceful people as much coverage as they give violent people. Martha Eicher, Westwood, OH

Brotherhood: Our Condolences To The New York Times, Sept. 14, 2012 Today’s world is a global village; nations are closer than ever before. In such a world, respect for values and figures—religious or otherwise—that nations hold dear is a necessary requirement to build sustainable, mutually beneficial relationships. Despite our resentment of the continued appearance of productions like the antiMuslim film that led to the current violence, we do not hold the American government or its citizens responsible for acts of the few that abuse the laws protecting freedom of expression. In a new democratic Egypt, Egyptians earned the right to voice their anger over such issues, and they expect their government to uphold and protect their right to do so. However, they should do so peacefully and within the bounds of the law. The breach of the United States Embassy premises by Egyptian protesters is illegal under international law. The failure of the protecting police force has to be investigated. We are relieved that no embassy staff in Cairo were harmed. Egypt is going through a state of revolutionary fluidity, and public anger needs to be dealt with responsibly and with caution. Our condolences to the American people for the loss of their ambassador and three members of the embassy staff in Libya. We hope that the relationships that both Americans and Egyptians worked to build in the past couple of months can sustain the turbulence of this week’s events. Our nations have much to learn from each other as we embark on building the new Egypt. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

Khairat El-Shater, Muslim Brotherhood Deputy President, Cairo, Egypt

Students Protest Israel To U-T San Diego, Oct. 2, 2012 Rabbi David Frank’s op-ed fails to mention that Israel has approximately 300 illegal nuclear weapons and is constantly threatening to bomb Iran. As a former UCSD faculty member and an American Jew, I am delighted to see students and faculty on UC campuses protesting Israel’s savage apartheid policies and continual violations of international law. Even today Israel is evicting Palestinians from their homes and razing Bedouin villages, expropriating more and more of what little remains of the Palestinian homeland. Nor has Israel been “falsely accused of genocide and ethnic cleansing.” By now many historians have documented the horrors of the expulsion of 720,000 Palestinians in 1948 from their rightful lands. That crime, which resulted in the theft of 76 percent of Palestine, is explored most fully, in all its excruciating detail, by the courageous Israeli Jewish historian Ilan Pappé in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. And according to the U.N. definition, ethnic cleansing is, in fact, a form of genocide. Progressive Americans are finally waking up to the expansionist, racist state Israel has been since its inception, something many Arab Americans have understood all along. No wonder campus protests continue to grow. Steve Kowit, Potrero, CA

Israel Has No Say To The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer, Sept. 20, 2012 Is anyone else offended to see U.S. politicians (they are not statesmen) cower in the shadows as Israeli leaders debate, on national TV, what our U.S. foreign policy should be? Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu got wide coverage as he pushed President Barack Obama to draw a “red line” for launching military attacks against Iran. Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, interviewed on “60 Minutes,” told us Netanyahu is totally off base. Attacking Iran was “the stupidest idea” he’d ever heard, said Dagan. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

No American “leader” would dare speak to Netanyahu that way. Who can ever forget the cacophony of 29 standing ovations bestowed on the Israeli prime minister when he spoke to a joint session of Congress in May 2011? What’s going on here? Didn’t George Washington warn us in 1796 against “foreign entanglements”? It has come to this: The tail is wagging the dog. Thomas Kim Hill, Lyndhurst, OH

Israel Overstepping Bounds To The Buffalo News, Oct. 4, 2012 This is in answer to the Sept. 25 letter writer who took The News to task for condemning Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his advocacy of a “red line” against Iranian transgressions. Israel sounds to me like a bully in a schoolyard picking out two kids and saying, “let’s you and him fight.” Since when does Israel call the shots on what the United States is supposed to do? Israel is the biggest recipient of U.S. aid, but this does not give it the right to set our policies. I am in no way defending Iran or approving of its policies. However, the statement that it is “common knowledge” that Iran is close to perfecting a nuclear weapon begs an explanation of the same situation some years ago—that Saddam Hussain had “weapons of mass destruction.” When we invaded Iraq, no weapons were found. The writer also made the argument that both the ayatollah and president of Iran said Israel was a scourge and should be wiped from the face of the earth. Isn’t this the same attitude that Israel is taking toward Palestine? Let’s present both sides of the argument. Bob Adner, Tonawanda, NY

Reckless Talk To the Los Angeles Times, Sept. 16, 2012 [Deputy speaker of the Knesset Danny] Danon hardly helps his cause by citing as an example of sound foreign policy Israel’s pre-emptive strike that launched the SixDay War in 1967. By not allowing for the possibility of a diplomatic solution (then and now), Israel is burdened with governing the occupied territories and compelled to manage an oppressed population. Recalling the attack on Iraq in 1981, 67


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Danon suggests that Israel ought to consider a unilateral attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities—an attack that even the Israeli military has stated would probably not succeed in destroying Iran’s capacity to develop a nuclear capability. Israel lacks the firepower to penetrate the underground bunkers in which Iran conducts its nuclear research. In his efforts to make Israel more secure, Danon’s reckless strategy involving unilateral military action would achieve just the opposite. The irony is breathtaking. Andrew Spathis, Los Angeles, CA

No Knee-Jerk War To Newsday, Sept. 20, 2012 It is very easy for Charles Krauthammer to criticize, but there is not one reasonable solution in his column “Obama is too feckless about Iran” [Opinion, Sept. 16]. Is Krauthammer suggesting a large-scale military intervention by the United States in Iran that would lead to massive casualties and a major war in the Middle East, an almost guaranteed invasion or attack on Israel, and a worldwide economic depression? Have we learned anything from the invasion of Iraq? I am sure many diplomatic, political and economic avenues are being privately explored. Krauthammer and his fellow neoconservatives are always quick to respond to any crisis, and this is a major crisis, by threatening military intervention. Americans are tired of war. Attitudes like Krauthammer’s have already cost thousands of American lives in Iraq and trillions of dollars spent on our military intervention. The unfunded Iraq war is a major reason for our economic and debt crisis today. Knee-jerk reactions of “let’s go to war” have got to be tempered by all reasonable efforts to avoid one. Steven F. Lowenhar, Dix Hills, NY

Children In War To The Guardian, Sept. 27, 2012 Thank you for giving prominence to the effect of armed conflict in Syria on children. The situation in Syria, unfortunately, is similar to that in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where innocent civilians and children, in particular, are more likely to be killed than either armed insurgents or soldiers. Armed conflict affects one in six children worldwide, and it is no accident that the ratio of civilian to military deaths has increased over the last 100 years despite weapons becoming more sophisticated. It should be politically unacceptable to refer to the deaths of innocent children as collateral damage. Unfortunately, the 68

death of innocent children in any of the areas worldwide where there is armed conflict rarely makes the news. We need to accept responsibility for the actions of successive British governments who have been involved in at least 17 different wars since the Second World War and also have promoted arms sales to countries with a poor record on human rights. Imti Choonara, professor in child health, University of Nottingham (England)

Syrian History Destroyed To The Fresno [CA] Bee, Oct. 2, 2012 Two years ago during a journey to Aleppo, Syria, I visited its historic covered market—or souk. It is part of a United Nations World Heritage Site. Sadly, it burned during weekend fighting. Its damage also underscores how a continuing civil war is tearing the nation apart. The souk’s destruction is a minor tragedy when compared to the horrendous carnage during the 18-month old conflict. Syria remains engaged in a dirty and ugly civil war. The souk was a “must visit” tourist attraction. I remember walking along an overcrowded labyrinth of small shops with

WRITE OR TELEPHONE THOSE WORKING FOR YOU IN WASHINGTON. President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Washington, DC 20500 (202) 456-1414 White House Comment Line: (202) 456-1111 Fax: (202) 456-2461 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Department of State Washington, DC 20520 State Department Public Information Line: (202) 647-6575 Any Senator U.S. Senate Washington, DC 20510 (202) 224-3121 Any Representative U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515 (202) 225-3121

E-MAIL CONGRESS AND THE WHITE HOUSE E-mail Congress: visit the Web site <www.congress.org> for contact information. E-mail President Obama: <president@whitehouse.gov> E-mail Vice President Joe Biden: <vice.president@whitehouse.gov>

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

a mélange of products ranging from spices to beautiful handmade gold jewelry and other works of art. What a tremendous loss to the shopkeepers and their workers. With the war raging, the nation’s commerce is nearing a halt. I also visited the nearby 13th-century citadel and other cultural sites from past centuries. These form Aleppo’s urban uniqueness. Now, they are all targets for ruin. The United Nations has been unable to end the conflict. This war will continue with more death and destruction. The pain is not only felt by the casualities of this fighting but others who treasure Syria and its historic past. Harry G. Harris, Fresno, CA

Fighting Hunger To The Washington Post, Sept. 23, 2012 Since Charles Krauthammer brought up the issue of U.S. foreign policy, we should highlight an extremely overlooked aspect: fighting hunger and malnutrition. George Marshall once said, “Hunger and insecurity are the worst enemies of peace.” We have to realize that a successful foreign policy is one that vigorously combats hunger. Yet budgets are too low for our Food for Peace and other initiatives that fight hunger. These programs, which make up less than 1 percent of the foreign affairs budget, can be expanded without breaking the bank. Run down a list of countries high on our foreign policy list, and you will see high rates of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, Pakistan and Somalia, to name a few. Food is a bridge to peace. William Lambers, Cincinnati, OH

Drones Fatal Policy Option To the Los Angeles Times, Oct. 7, 2012 [Jennifer] Gibson’s riveting firsthand account of the effect of drone warfare in North Waziristan cements my belief that a substantive discussion of this type of warfare is imperative. The report “Living Under Drones,” for which Gibson was a researcher, states that 74 percent of Pakistanis consider the U.S. an enemy, not surprising after reading that since 2004, according to one study, more than 880 civilians have been killed in drone strikes. Will our president and Congress please step up and address the legal and ethical questions related to drone warfare? Marilyn Schafer, Los Angeles, CA ❑ NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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KHALIL BENDIB

CWS/CARTOONARTS INTERNATIONAL www.cartoonweb.com

THE WORLD LOOKS AT THE MIDDLE EAST

The New York Times Syndicate, NY

CWS/CARTOONARTS INTERNATIONAL www.cartoonweb.com

CWS/CARTOONARTS INTERNATIONAL www.cartoonweb.com

The Muslim Observer, Livonia

The Khaleej Times, Dubai

CWS/CARTOONARTS INTERNATIONAL www.cartoonweb.com

CWS/CARTOONARTS INTERNATIONAL www.cartoonweb.com

Verdens Gang, Oslo

The Economist, London

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

Al-Rai, Amman

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bookreview_70_Book Review 10/10/12 11:07 AM Page 70

Books After Zionism: One State for Israel and Palestine Edited by Antony Loewenstein & Ahmed Moor, 2012, paperback, 287 pp. List: $15.95; AET: $12 Reviewed by Dale Sprusansky and Andrew Stimson Editors Antony Loewenstein and Ahmed Moor reject the current status quo of Israel’s occupation of Palestine and unequivocally call for the termination of the twostate approach. This collection of 14 essays written by journalists and scholars including Omar Barghouti, John Mearsheimer and Ilan Pappe, presents the case for a one-state solution. Loewenstein and Moor believe that internal Palestinian political divisions, years of Israeli colonialism and increased calls for equal rights by Palestinians make the creation of a viable Palestinian state unfeasible. They argue, moreover, that Palestine/Israel today is in essence a single apartheid state, in which Israel has been able to divide, exploit, steal from and limit Dale Sprusansky is assistant editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Andrew Stimson is director of the AET Book Club.

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the civil rights of Palestinians. While the various contributors in After Zionism agree that a one-state solution must be pursued, they approach the topic from a variety of angles and at times differ in their views. “We wanted diversity, not conformity,” the editors explain in the introduction. “We don’t agree with everything that appears in the book but we believe in having the debate.” Notable contributions include Diana Buttu’s dissection of the Oslo accords, which, she argues, essentially placed the Palestinian Authority (PA) as Israel’s security subcontractor in the West Bank, providing international cover while Israeli policies continued to divide Palestinian people and land. Ghada Karmi makes a compelling and succinct case for the dissolution of the PA as a first step toward a one-state solution. Other highlights include Jonathan Cook’s excellent analysis of Israeli social policies designed to exclude “misfits,” namely non-Jews, and Jeremiah Haber’s provocative essay on the prospects of a post-Israel Zionism. Regardless of whether one agrees that the two-state approach should be abandoned entirely, After Zionism provides a stimulating and much needed critique of the present reality in the Holy Land.

The Time Remaining By Samuel Hazo, Syracuse University Press, 2012, paperback, 232 pp. List: $19.95; AET: $16. Reviewed by Delinda Hanley Samuel Hazo’s modern-day political thriller intrigued this reader—after I got past the racy three-page bedroom scene launched in the very first paragraph—because the main character is an American journalist whose best friend, Tabry, publishes a Washington, DC-based Palestinian-oriented journal not unlike the Washington Report. “This work is really my life, my oxygen,” Tabry tells Gil christ. “My soul is in it. If you love your country, you fight for THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

it in the best way you can. It’s something you simply have to do…” Tabry tries to explain what it means to be Pa l e s t i n i a n . “You know, Gil, when someone takes your country away from you, it’s like taking your name from you. That’s the way it makes me feel— nameless.” Tabry says he feels like a “permanent stranger” no matter where he lives, “a kind of accidental man….” When Gilchrist suggests that Tabry should get over it and just pretend Palestine was totally destroyed by a typhoon or an earthquake and make a new life here in Washington, DC, Tabry explains, “If the country had been destroyed by an earthquake, I could accept it. It would take a long time, but I would accept it. But this is different. I don’t have a country today because it was taken away by human beings….Specific people stole the country from me, from us. That makes a big difference, Gil…” Gilchrist can’t fathom his college friend’s passion, confessing, “That’s your fight, not mine. I’m sympathetic, but I’m going to keep my distance from both sides.” The novel follows Gilchrist’s journey of discovery as he falls hard for the Palestinian narrative (as well as Tabry’s brilliant, but traumatized, niece Raya). Before long, Gilchrist risks both his reputation and life because, as he explains to his editor, “There are a lot of other things to write about, but I’m just not interested in writing about anything else at the moment. This is the one subject that’s been distorted in the media for decades, and I feel like it’s eating away at our foreign policy so that it’s no longer ours. I feel a responsibility to rectify the situation.” Hazo, who served as Pennsylvania’s first poet laureate from 1993 to 2003, captures the passion, anger and disappointment so many of us feel about the ongoing political drama of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. The Time Remaining will help explain the Palestinian issue to readers as it entertains them with a suspense-filled love story. ❑ Delinda C. Hanley is news editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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AET Book Club Catalog Literature

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Music

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Film

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Monographs

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More

Winter 2012 Occupation Diaries by Raja Shehadeh, O/R Books, 2012, paperback, 212 pp. List: $18; AET: $16. Celebrated author and human rights lawyer Raja Shehadeh is also a dedicated diarist living in Ramallah. The entries in his Occupation Diaries reveal the daily struggles faced by many in Palestine: will there be enough water for the bath tonight? How will one get rid of the trash collecting outside? How long will it take to get through the checkpoints? Shehadeh also ruminates on such larger issues as the Arab Spring’s effect on Palestine and the dilemma of working with left-wing Israelis.

The Time Remaining by Samuel Hazo, Syracuse University Press, 2012, paperback, 267 pp. List: $19.95; AET: $16. This fast-paced political thriller follows journalist Dodge Dider Gilchrist as he investigates the mysterious death of his former college roommate, Palestinian scholar Sharif Tabry. Gilchrist’s journey leads him from Washington, DC to Israel and into the heart of the Palestinian predicament under occupation. Poet and author Samuel Hazo has penned a powerful tale that deftly navigates the political and human complexities of the PalestinianIsraeli conflict.

Islam and the Arab Awakening by Tariq Ramadan, Oxford University Press, 2012, hardcover, 243 pp. List: $27.95; AET: $19. Influential Muslim intellectual and author Tariq Ramadan offers rare insight into the origins of the Arab uprisings, their significance and possible future. Islam & the Arab Awakening explores the role religion will play in these burgeoning political systems, as well as how Islamic principles can help address the challenges of democracy and economic disparity.

A Journey Through Islamic History by Yasminah Hashim and Muhammad Beg, Kube Publishing, 2012, hardcover, 136 pp. List: $22.95; AET: $16. From the Prophet Muhammad to the Arab Awakening, Journey tells the story of 1500 years of Islamic history, using more than 185 color photographs, lavish illustrations, detailed timelines, full-page maps, and detailed biographies. The authors have assembled an invaluable and graphically stunning resource for students of all ages.

Domes, Arches and Minarets by Phil Pasquini, Flypaper Press, 2012, paperback, 253 pp. List: $45; AET: $32. Exceptionally wellwritten, with fullpage color photographs, Domes, Arches and Minarets uncovers some of the most important Islamic-influenced architecture created by non-Muslims in the United States. Full of surprising discoveries and unique historical insights, this compelling survey of an underappreciated subject will have readers looking up to spot the elements of Islamic architecture that are part of our American cultural heritage.

After Zionism: One State for Israel and Palestine edited by Antony Loewenstein and Ahmed Moor, Saqi Books, 2012, paperback, 287 pp. List: $15.95; AET: $12. This musthave title for activists and advocates brings together some of the world’s leading thinkers on the Middle East to dissect the century-long conflict between Zionists and Palestinians, and to explore possible forms of a one-state solution. Contributors include Omar Barghouti, Jonathan Cook, Jeff Halper, Ghada Karmi, Saree Makdisi, John Mearsheimer, Ilan Pappe, Sara Roy and many more.

Solving 9-11: The Deception That Changed the World by Christopher Bollyn, 2012, paperback, 325 pp. List: $24.99; AET: $22. This independent analysis of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 includes historical and geopolitical background and examines the motivation of the people who played key roles in the destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice for the families of the victims.

Cinderella: An Islamic Tale by Fawaz Gilani, illustrated by Shireen Adams, Kube Publishing, 2010, hardcover, 40 pp. List: $14; AET: $10. Set in medieval Andalusia, this retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale introduces readers to Zahra, a gentle and pious orphan left at the mercy of an uncaring stepmother and stepsisters following the death of her father. Richly illustrated by Shireen Adams, this Islamic version of Cinderella helps instill universal values in which faith, goodness and prayer are rewarded in the end.

The Illegal War on Libya edited by Cynthia McKinney, Clarity Press, 2012, paperback, 324 pp. List: $19.95; AET: $15. With a preface by Ramsey Clark, this collection of essays includes scholarly and legal analysis as well as personal accounts by witnesses to the NATO assault on the civilian population it had a U.N. mandate to protect, and the massive propaganda campaign that made it possible. Former Congresswoman McKinney and other contributors to this volume were in Libya during the NATO bombardment.

Shipping Rates Most items are discounted and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Orders accepted by mail, phone (800-368-5788 ext. 2), or Web (www.middleeastbooks.com). All payments in U.S. funds. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted. Please make checks and money orders out to “AET.” Contact the AET Book Club for complete shipping guidelines and options. U . S . S h i p p i n g R a t e s : Please add $5 for the first item and $2.50 for each additional item. Canada & Mexico shipping charges: Please add $11 for the first item and $3 for each additional item. International shipping charges: Please add $13 for the first item and $3.50 for each additional item. We ship by USPS Priority unless otherwise requested. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

L i b r a r y p a c k a g e s (list value over $240) are available for $29 if donated to a library, or free if requested with a library’s paid subscription or renewal. Call the Book Club at 800-368-5788 ext. 2 to order. AET policy is to identify donors unless anonymity is specifically requested.

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Upcoming Events, Announcements & —Compiled by Alex Begley Obituaries Upcoming Events Oct. 25 and 26: The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR) hosts its 21st Annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference at the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20004. Arab and American leaders from government, the military, business and academia will discuss the most important issues facing the Middle East today. For more information visit <www.ncusar. org> or call (202) 293-6466. Oct. 28: The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) will present the 3rd Annual ASWAT Concert, featuring the ASWAT Women’s Ensemble & Oud Ensemble, at 3 p.m. at the Islamic Cultural Center, 1433 Madison St., Oakland, CA 94612. Proceeds from the event will help support MECA’s Maia Project: Clean Water for Children in Gaza. For more information visit <www.mecaforpeace.org> or call (510) 548-0542. Nov. 2-4: The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor will host the 2012 Students for Justice in Palestine National Conference. Organized entirely by students and volunteers from around the country, the conference will focus on bridging student movements through collaboration and information workshops. For more information visit <www.sjpnational.org>. Nov. 4: The United Muslim Foundation will host Eid al-Adha Celebration: Benefiting Our Community’s Youth, featuring guest speaker Dr. Altaf Husain, comedian Dan Nainan, and nasheed singing by Fez Meghani & Aftab Ali. The celebration will be held from 3:30 to 7 p.m. at 811 Wilma St., Longwood, FL. For more information visit <www.unitedmuslimfoundation.org> or call (800) 863-1795. Nov. 9-Dec. 1: The Jerusalem Fund will present “Guardians of the Mosque: African Palestinians of Jerusalem,” featuring photographs by Andrew Courtney, at 2425 Virginia Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20037. This unique exhibit focuses on the African Palestinian community in the heart of Jerusalem’s 72

Muslim Quarter. For more information visit <www.jerusalemfund.org> or call (202) 338-1958. Nov. 9 and 10: The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation will host its 14th Annual International Conference and 3rd Investment and Business Conference at the National 4H Conference Center, 7100 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase, MD 20814. Diaspora Palestinians will have the opportunity to connect with their heritage, build solidarity, and explore the resources available in the Palestinian business community. For more information visit <www.hcef.org>, or call (301) 951-9400. Nov. 14: The Middle East Institute will hold its 66th Annual Conference, New Horizons, New Challenges: The Middle East in 2013, at the Grand Hyatt Washington, 1000 H St. NW, Washington, DC 20001. Experts from the U.S. and the Middle East will examine the political transitions underway and forecast the year ahead. For more information visit <www.mei.edu> or call (202) 785-1141.

BulletinBoard

Obituaries: Morteza K. Yahyavi, 93, former deputy chief at the Voice of America (VOA), died Aug. 2 in Oceanside, CA. Born in Tabriz, Iran, he attended the Univeristy of Tehran, subsequently receiving a Fullbright Scholarship to study for a doctorate at the University of Washington. He joined VOA in the early 1950s as an editor and translator for broadcasts in Farsi. He also worked as a free-lance writer and translator, writing for newspapers and eventually translating Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea from French to Farsi. He became chief of VOA’s Persian/Dari Service in 1979 and retired as a deputy chief of the West Asia branch in 1982.

The South Dakota Hall of Fame inducted former U.S. Senator and founder of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) James Abourezk, during a two-day event on Sept. 7 and 8.

Said K. Aburish, 77, Palestinian journalist, historian and prolific author, died of heart failure Aug. 29 in al-Eizariya (Bethany) in the occupied West Bank. Born in Palestine, he was raised in Beirut after his father moved the family there in 1948. He was later was educated at a Quaker boarding school in Pennsylvania, and became a United States citizen in 1958. After attending Princeton and the University of Chicago, he took a job reporting for Radio Free Europe in lieu of serving in the U.S. Army. Aburish later became a correspondent and columnist for several publications, including The Daily Mail and Al Quds; his articles also appeared in The Washington Post, LA Times, and The Sunday Times. More controversially, Aburish was an arms dealer between Western and Arab governments. He served as an adviser to the Iraqi government before resigning in the early 1980s and revealing the story of Saddam Hussain’s chemical weapons program in The Observer. Aburish famously wrote biographies of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Hussain, and Gamal Abdel Nasser, as well as several books on Palestine.

The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) presented its 2012 Courage in Journalism award to Gaza-based Palestinian journalist and blogger Asmaa al-Ghoul, celebrating her courage and commitment to reporting on human rights despite facing death threats and beatings. IWMF also granted a lifetime achievement award to Pakistani journalist Zubeida Mustafa.

Dr. Gabi Baramki, 82, Palestinian author, educator, activist and former president of Birzeit University, died Aug. 30 in Ramallah. Born in Jerusalem, his family fled to Gaza during the 1948 Nakba, and he was only permitted to visit his family home once, in 2000, after more than 50 years of fighting in Israeli courts. Continued on page 74

Nov. 16: The Arab American National Museum will host Little Syria, NY: An Immigrant Community’s Life & Legacy Opening Reception at 6 p.m., 13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, MI 48126. The event is free and open to the public and will feature live music. For more information visit <www.arabamericanmuseum.org> or call (313) 582-2266.

Announcements

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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AETâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2012 Choir of Angels Following are individuals, organizations, companies and foundations whose help between Jan. 1 and Sept. 28, 2012 is making possible activities of the tax-exempt AET Library Endowment (federal ID #52-1460362) and the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. We are deeply honored by their confidence and profoundly grateful for their generosity.

HUMMERS ($100 or more) Richard Abdoo, Milwaukee, WI Sami Abed, South Lyon, MI James Abourezk, Sioux Falls, SD Rev. Fahed Abu-Akel, Atlanta, GA Rizek Abusharr, Claremont, CA Robert L. Ackerman, New Alexandria, PA Hafiz Ahmad, Acworth, GA*** Dr. M.Y. Ahmed, Waterville, OH Christopher Ake, San Diego, CA Dr. & Mrs. Salah Al-Askari, Leonia, NJ Mazen Alsatie, Fishers, IN Arthur Alter, Goleta, CA Hamid & Kim Alwan, Milwaukee, WI Drs. A.J. and M. Amirana, Las Vegas, NV Dr. Nabih Ammari, Cleveland, OH Nadir K. Amra, Rochester, MN Louise Anderson, Oakland, CA Anace & Polly Aossey, Cedar Rapids, IA Muhammad Ashiq, Paramount, CA Dr. Robert Ashmore, Jr., Mequon, WI Mr. & Mrs. Sultan Aslam, Plainsboro, NJ Fuad Baali, Bowling Green, KY Alma Ball, Venice, FL Rev. Robert E. Barber, Parrish, FL Stanton Barrett, Ipswich, MA Heidi Beck, Cedarville, CA Robert Beckmann and Rachel Levy, Seattle, WA Mohammed Bendebba, Baltimore, MD Syed & Rubia Bokhari, Bourbonna, IL John Boveri, Bethesda, MD Dr. Carole Burnett, Silver Spring, MD John Carley, Pointe-Claire, Quebec Patricia Christensen, Poulsbo, WA Dr. James Cobey, Washington, DC Dr. Robert G. Collmer, Waco, TX Carole Courey, Cataumet, MA Mrs. Walter Cox, Monroe, GA Lois Critchfield, Williamsburg, VA Jay R. Crook, Tucson, AZ Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Curtiss, Herndon, VA Taher & Sheila Dajani, Alexandria, VA Glenn Davenport, Corvallis, OR Sharlene de Hertel, San Jose, CA Lee & Amelia Dinsmore, Elcho,WI Dr. David Dunning, Lake Oswego, OR Mervat Eid, Henrietta, NY Bassam M.A. El-Borno, Lilitz, PA Gloria El-Khouri, Scottsdale, AZ Dr. Mohamed Elsamahi, Marion, IL Barbara Erickson, Berkeley, CA M.R. Eucalyptus, Kansas City, MO Dr. & Mrs. Hossam Fadel, Augusta, GA Albert E. Fairchild, Bethesda, MD Dr. Ibrahim Fawal, Birmingham, AL Paul Findley, Jacksonville, IL NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

Elisabeth Fitzhugh, Mitchellville, MD Friends of Sabeel, Portland, OR Robert Gabe, Valatie, NY Joseph & Angela Gauci, Whittier, CA William Gefell, Turnbridge, VT Marilyn Grindley, Wheeling, WV Abdool Hack, Union, NJ Dr. Wasif Hafeez, W. Bloomfield, MI Ibrahim Hamide, Eugene, OR Erin K. Hankir, Ottawa, Canada Shirley Hannah, Argyle, NY Katharina Harlow, Pacific Grove, CA Robert & Helen Harold, West Salem, WI Angelica Harter, Cambridge, MA Dr. Steven Harvey, Manchester, NH Frances Hasenyager, Carmel, CA Mr. & Mrs. Sameer Hassan, Quaker Hill, CT Dennis Heatherley, San Antonio, TX Alan Heil, Alexandria, VA Mr. & Mrs. John Hendrickson, Tulsa, OK Dr. & Mrs. Sam Holland, North Eastham, MA Helen Holman, Litchfield, ME William C. Hunt, Somerset, WI Ismail Husseini, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Mr. & Mrs. Azmi Ideis, Deltona, FL Hala Jabbour, Herndon, VA Rafeeq Jaber, Oak Lawn, IL Dennis James, Brooklyn, NY Fred Jimeian, Satellite Beach, FL Ghazy Kader, Shoreline, WA Omar & Nancy Kader, Vienna, VA Mohamad Kamal, North York, ON Fred Karlson, Ferndale, WA Riad Kash, Niles, IL Mary Keath, Dayton, MD Michael Keating, Olney, MD Louise & Bob Keeley, Washington, DC Susan Kerin, Gaithersburg, MD Dr. Mazen Khalidi, Grosse Point Farms, MI Dr. M. Jamil Khan, Bloomfield, MI Dr. Mohayya Khilifeh, Chicago, IL Dr. & Mrs. Assad Khoury, Potomac, MD Tony & Anne Khoury, Danville, CA N. Khoury, Pasadena, CA Paul Kirk, Baton Rouge, LA Ronald Kunde, Skokie, IL Matt Labadie, Portland, OR Dr. Iqbal Lalani, Colleyville, TX Laurel Family Eyecare, Laurel, MD Miles Learned, Burlington, WA Mary Lou Levin, Mill Valley, CA Fran Lilleness, Seattle, WA George & Karen Longstreth, San Diego, CA J. Robert Lunney, Bronxville, NY Anthony Mabarak, Grosse Pointe Park, MI Robert L. Mabarak, Grosse Pointe Park, MI THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

A. Kent MacDougal, Berkeley, CA Nidal Mahayni, Richmond, VA Ramy & Cynthia Mahmoud, Skillman, NJ Richard Makdisi & Lindsay Wheeler, Berkeley, CA Amb. Clovis Maksoud, Washington, DC John B. Malouf, Lubbock, TX Tahera Mamdani, Fridley, MN Ted Marczak, Toms River, NJ Martha Martin, Paia, HI Tom & Tess McAndrew, Oro Valley, AZ Shirl McArthur, Reston, VA Bill McGrath, Northfield, MN George Mendenhall, Ann Arbor, MI Gerald & Judith Merrill, Oakland, CA Robert Michael, Sun Lakes, AZ Tom Mickelson, Madison, WI Dr. Yehia Mishriki, Emmaus, PA John & Ruth Monson, La Crosse, WI Mr. & Mrs. Jan Moreb, Gainesville, FL Louie Mughannam, Sebastopol, CA Liz Mulford, Cupertino, CA Charles Murphy, Upper Falls, MD Raymond & Joan Musallam, Wilton, CA Mohamad Nabi, Union, KY A.F. Nahas, Danbury, CT Joseph Najemy, Worcester, MA Sara Najjar-Wilson, Reston, VA Mr. & Mrs. David Nalle, Washington, DC Jacob Nammar, San Antonio, TX Neal & Donna Newby, Mancos, CO Mary Neznek, Washington, DC Kamal Obeid, Fremont, CA Khaled Othman, Riverside, CA Elaine & Phil Pasquini, Novato, CA Jim Plourd, Monterey, CA M.H. Quader, Harrisburg, PA Muhammad Quereshi, Brampton, ON Marjorie Ransom, Washington, DC Nayla Rathle, Belmont, MA Mr. & Mrs. Edward Reilly, Rocky Point, NY Paul Richards, Salem, OR Neil Richardson, Randolph, VT John Roche, Arlington, VA Amb. William Rugh, Garrett Park, MD Nadia M. Saad, Chevy Chase, MD Fehmey Saddy, Severn Park, MD Dr. Ahmed M. Sakkal, Charleston, WV Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Salem, Laurel, MD Asha Samad, New York, NY Rifqa Shahin, Apple Valley, CA Richard J. Shaker, Annapolis, MD Kathy Sheridan, Mill Valley, CA Dr. Mostafa Hashem Sherif, Tinton Falls, NJ Yousuf Siddiqui, Bloomfield, MI David J. Snider, Airmont, NY John Soderberg, Foley, AL Gregory Stefanatos, Flushing, NY Dr. William Strange, Fort Garland, CO Ghulam Suhrawardi, Parlin, NJ 73


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Mubadda Suidan, Atlanta, GA Beverly Swartz, Sarasota, FL Dr. Joseph Tamari, Chicago, IL Doris Taweel, Laurel, MD Charles Thomas, La Conner, WA Edmund & Norma Tomey, Dorset, VT Joan Toole, Albany, GA Ned Toomey, Bishop, CA Gertraud Turpen, Edmond, OK Letitia Ufford, Princeton, NJ Unitarian Universalists for Justice, Cambridge, MA John Van Wagoner, McLean, VA Mr. & Mrs. Peter Viering, Stonington, CT Paul Wagner, Bridgeville, PA Dale Walker, Hoboken, NJ Rev. Hermann Weinlick, Minneapolis, MN Arthur & Marianne Whitman, Auburn, ME Raymond Younes, Oxnard, CA Dr. & Mrs. John Zacharia, McLean, VA John Zacharia, Vienna, VA Mr. & Mrs. Amin Zacharia, Huntingdon Valley, PA Munir Zacharia, La Mirada, CA Vivian Zelaya, Berkeley, CA Rafi Ziauddin, West Chester, PA

ACCOMPANISTS ($250 or more) Patricia Ann Abraham, Charleston, SC Janet Acord, Wimberley, TX Richard Adamiak, Ph.D., Chicago, IL* Nabil & Judy Amarah, Danbury, CT Rev. Dr. Lois Aroian, Willow Lake, SD Donna Baer, Grand Junction, CO Dr. Sami Baraka, Wyandotte, MI Elizabeth Boosahda, Worcester, MA William Canady, Mobile, AL Rev. Ronald C. Chochol, St. Louis, MO Jean & Donald Clarke, Devon, PA Mr. & Mrs. John Crawford, Boulder, CO Richard Curtiss, Boynton Beach, FL Joseph Daruty, Newport Beach, CA Robert & Tanis Diedrichs, Cedar Falls, IA Douglas A. Field, Kihei, HI Eugene Fitzpatrick, Wheat Ridge, CO Bill Gartland, Rio, WI Marvin & Shirley Gluck, Topanga, CA Ray Gordon, Bel Air, MD Sam Gousen, Arlington, VA H. Clark Griswold, Woodbury, CT Dr. Colbert & Mildred Held, Waco, TX Salman & Kate Hilmy, Silver Spring, MD Fahd Jajeh, Lake Forest, IL Les Janka, Arlington, VA Issa & Rose Kamar, Plano, TX Gloria Keller, Santa Rosa, CA Omar Khwaja, Irvine, CA Sandra La Framboise, Oakland, CA Joe & Lilli Lill, Arlington, VA Eric Margolis, Toronto, ON Jean Mayer, Bethesda, MD Paul Meyer, Iowa City, IA 74

John Parry, Chapel Hill, NC Sam Rahman, Lincoln, CA Frank & Mary Regier, Strongsville, OH Denis Sabourin, Dubai, UAE Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Salem, Laurel, MD Henry Schubert, Damascus, OR Aziz Shalaby, Vancouver, WA Yusef & Jennifer Sifri, Wilmington, NC Grant Smith, Washington, DC Norman Smith, Exton, PA Mae Stephen, Palo Alto, CA Michel & Cathy Sultan, Eau Claire, WI Dina Tamimi, Dubai, UAE Zuhair Thalji, Willow Spgs., IL Joseph Walsh, Adamsville, RI Dr. Robert Younes, Potomac, MD Ziyad & Cindi Zaitoun, Seattle, WA* Fred Zuercher, Spring Grove, PA

TENORS & CONTRALTOS ($500 or more) Michael Ameri, Calabasas, CA Drs. A.J. and M.T. Amirana, Las Vegas, NV Kamel Ayoub, Hillsborough, CA Graf Herman Bender, North Palm Beach, FL Prof. & Mrs. George Wesley Buchanan, Gaithersburg, MD William G. Coughlin, Brookline, MA Shuja El-Asad, Amman, Jordan Dr. Rafeek Farah, New Boston, MI Glenn Glover, Birmingham, AL Michael Habermann, Hackettstown, NJ Islamic Center of Long Island, Westbury, NY Brigitte Jaensch, Carmichael, CA Jack Love, Escondido, CA Dr. Charles McCutchen, Bethesda, MD Estate of Rita A. McGaughey, La Crosse, WI Alice Nashashibi, San Francisco, CA Audrey Olson, Saint Paul, MN Oriental Bakery & Grocery, Miami, FL Jane Power, Vancouver, Canada Dr. Amani Ramahi, Lakewood, OH Gabrielle & Jalal Saad, Oakland, CA Dr. Mohammed Sabbagh, Grand Blanc, MI David R. Willcox, Harrison, AR

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Linda Emmet, Paris, France Dr. & Mrs. Clyde Farris, West Linn, OR Gary Richard Feulner, Dubai, UAE Evan & Leman Fotos, Istanbul, Turkey George Hanna, Santa Ana, CA Dr. & Mrs. Hassan Fouda, Berkeley, CA Oliver Hall, Washington, DC Hind Hamdan, Hagerstown, MD Amb. Holsey G. Handyside, Bedford, OH*** Judith Howard, Norwood, MA Zagloul Kadah, Seattle, WA Wendy Kaufmyn, Berkeley, CA Vincent & Louise Larsen, Billings, MT Rachelle Marshall, Mill Valley, CA Joan McConnell, Saltspring Island, BC William & Flora McCormick, Austin, TX John McGillion, Asbury Park, NJ John McLaughlin, Gordonsville, VA Ralph Nader, Washington, DC Robert & Sharon Norberg, Lake City, MN Ruth Ramsey, Blairsville, GA Mahmud Shaikhaly, Hollywood, CA Linda Thain-Ali, Kesap, Turkey

CHOIRMASTERS ($5,000 or more) Henry Clifford, Essex, CT Richard & Donna Curtiss, Kensington, MD**, **** John & Henrietta Goelet, Meru, France Andrew I. Killgore, Washington, DC** Neurology Pain & Headache Associates, Jasper, AL Mark R. Sheridan, Alexandria, VA *In memory of Rachel Corrie **In memory of Anthony Shadid ***Happy 30th Birthday, Washington Report! ****In memory of Georgia Whalen Pratt

Bulletin Board… Continued from page 72

A tireless advocate for the right of Palestinians to an education under occupation, Baramki led marches against Israel’s closure of Palestinian universities for which he suffered several beatings and jailing by the Israelis. Over the course of his 19 years as president of Birzeit, he established the institution’s first degreegranting program in 1972, and also helped found the Palestinian Council for Higher Education (1977) and the Palestinian European Academic Cooperation in Education Program (1991). In 2009, he published the much-acclaimed Peaceful Resistance: Building a Palestinian University Under Occupation, with a forward by former President Jimmy Carter. ❑ NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


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American Educational Trust The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs P.O. Box 53062 Washington, DC 20009

November/December 2012 Vol. XXXI, No. 8

A Libyan boy holds a flower as his father waits in line to hand over heavy caliber ammunition during a Sept. 29 ceremony at Tripoliâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Martyrsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Square. Hundreds of Libyans handed over weapons to the military in Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi in the wake of massive anti-militia protests. GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images


Vol. XXI No. 8 — November-December 2012 issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs  

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs magazine

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